San Francisco Giants 2013 Top 15 Prospects
Bullpen Banter’s 2013 Top 15 Prospects
Bullpen Banter San Francisco Giants 2013 Top 15 Prospects
Chris Blessing: Kyle Crick spent the 2012 season pitching for Giants South Atlantic League affiliate Augusta. Relatively new to pitching and young for the league, Crick performed tremendously against older, more mature competition. In 111 inning, Crick proved difficult to hit. Of pitchers who pitched at least 75 innings in the Sally, the 19-year-old was 2nd in hits per nine, giving up 6.1 hits for every 9 innings. Crick also struck out the opposition at an incredible rate, 10.3 strikeouts per nine innings, which ranked 5th among Sally league pitchers (75 innings or more). Crick dominated hitters with a fastball that is on it’s way to becoming a plus offering. Combining lightning quick arm speed with tremendous leg strength, Crick sits between 92 MPH and 94 MPH, touching 96 with the league’s most explosive fastball. Due to fatigue, Crick saw a dip in velocity and overall stuff in the last couple of 2012 starts. Crick’s primary secondary pitch is a slurvy curveball that Crick is tightening up. Crick struggles with his overall command at this point of his career. Batters walked almost as much as they hit Crick. Because his arm is so quick, his lower half doesn’t always keep up. When he makes a bad pitch, he tends to show it on the mound. As he matures, his command issues will clear up. Look for Crick to spend the 2013 campaign in the California league, hopefully showcasing a third offering. Adding a consistent third pitch will increase the likelihood he remains a starter long term.
Jeff Reese: The San Francisco Giants system is still fallen, but the emergence of some of their pitchers from the 2011 draft class (particularly of the prep variety) has started to revitalize it. Chris just detailed Kyle Crick; he was the consensus number one prospect in this system. Their 2012 first round pick was the easy choice for number two as well. Chris Stratton established himself as one of the best college pitchers early in Mississippi State’s season, dominating hitters by attacking the lower half of the zone with his advanced repertoire. His stuff is good overall with a sinking low 90s fastball, a heavy late breaking curve ball, and a change that he hides well. He has a chance to emerge as a number two if everything comes together, but a mid rotation starter is the better bet. Clayton Blackburn is the other prep 2011 draftee to have a big full season season. He dominated the SAL statistically, striking out more than a batter per inning and walking just one per nine. Chris in the first part of his top 50 scouted series compared his prospect status to that of Yusmeiro Petit when he was dominating the minor leagues as a teenager despite middling stuff. So there is reason to be reserved at this point. Mike Kickham had a solid season in his first taste of AA baseball, but it also came with bouts of wildness. He has the stuff to be a mid rotation starter if he can consistently throw more strikes.
Last year’s top prospect, Gary Brown, still has the impact level speed and defense in center field that he was known for when drafted out of Cal State Fullerton, but the hit tool that looked so promising in the CAL degraded a bit in a more difficult environment. With his speed and defense, he should hit enough to be at least a regular. The two position players at the top of the 2011 class had mediocre seasons in the CAL. Joe Panik didn’t excite me as an amateur and after a year in pro ball, my projection for him remains the same. He’s a solid college middle infielder who may be able to be a solid regular at second base. If not, he will be a utility type who can play short stop in a pinch. Andrew Susac, however, is someone who did excite me as an amateur. His swung the bat with authority during his sophomore season at Oregon State, and I expected much bigger things for him in 2012. I still like him overall and hopefully his second pro season sees a similar leap forward as that of his freshman to sophomore season. Mac Williamson was expected to do more with his tools at Wake Forest. He is a good athlete with a muscular, physically mature build, good bat speed with an aggressive swing, and big arm strength from the outfield.
The Giants are pretty well stocked with interesting bullpen arms, a few of which made this list. Martin Agosta may continue to make gains like he did during his last year in college, but it’s easier to see him moving to the bullpen. The same can be said about Bryce Bandilla who had a solid season in the NWL. He should be effective enough to avoid being typecast into a left-handed only role. Stephen Johnson meanwhile is purely a bullpen arm; his stuff though is huge and if he can refine his control, he has bullpen ace type of upside. Bryce Bandilla There are also guys like Ian Gardeck, Chris Marlowe, Steven Okert, Josh Osich, et alii who will likely fit best in the bullpen and have the raw stuff to make an impact there.
There’s still a lot of work to do overall for the Giants, but it is an improving system. I guess when you win the world series though, the farm system isn’t and shouldn’t be the highest priority!
Peter Wardell: With a pair of World Series titles in the past three years, the San Francisco Giants have been a model franchise, especially when you take into account just how homegrown the team actually is. From key lineup pieces like Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval and Brandon Belt to rotation members Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner and Tim Lincecum, the Giants front office and minor league staffs have been extremely successful when it comes to discovering and developing talent. It’s tough to take shots at an organization with that sort of track record, but there really isn’t a ton here that excites me overall, we’re looking at a bottom 10 farm system in my opinion.
Two of the guys that I got in-depth looks at down in the AFL were the two top position players in the system Gary Brown and Joe Panik. Neither projects to be an impact guy, but they both have value with the big league club. When writing up Brown, I was tempted to call him a fourth outfielder. Defense and speed are really his only two standout tool. I ended up projecting him for a .260 average with 5 home runs, 20 stolen bases and plus defense. In this era of suppressed offensive totals, that’s a starting centerfielder in the MLB. Brown has the first-round pedigree (2010) and has been/will be the top prospect on many Giants lists but he’s not the blue chip talent many think he is. The Giants inked Angel Pagan to a three-year deal earlier this week partially because he had such a great season, but also because Brown is not ready to fill that role. He should be up in a fourth outfield role within the next year, and could be a regular shortly after.
Panik, like Brown, was a college, first round selection (2011) and was expected to move through the organization quickly. Since entering pro ball, I’ve gotten the chance to check him out on three different occasions – 2011 AFL, 2012 Cal League playoffs & 2012 AFL – and have come up with the same conclusion. He can flat out hit, but he’s a second baseman. Panik shows excellent contact ability, and the numbers backed it up this year in High-A where he batted .297 with just 54 strikeouts over 605 at bats. Defensively, he shows good hands and average range but it’s just not shortstop actions. That’s not saying that he’s not a big leaguer, but I just think he?’ going to wind up on the right side of the infield, perhaps unseating Marco Scutaro, who also just signed a three-year deal to stay in San Francisco, as early as 2014.
Al Skorupa: The World Champions have made some progress in rebuilding a farm that was one of the worst in baseball a few years back. Pitcher Kyle Crick was their supplemental pick in 2011 and has proven better than expected. Crick still has considerable rawness in his game (particularly his mechanics and change up) but that’s understandable given he was primarily a first baseman until his senior year in high school. Crick has a fresh arm, size, velo and flashes filthy stuff. Its possible the Giants found another hidden gem front of the rotation arm if they can straighten him out and teach him an effective third offering. I like San Francisco’s first rounder this year as well. Chris Stratton can’t match Crick’s ceiling, but is a fairly safe bet to emerge as a solid middle rotation type. There might even be more there, but in either case he was good value with the 20th pick. I had Stratton 13th overall on my draft board and above other college arm like Wacha and Heaney. Gary Brown has been pegged by many as a disappointment after a down 2012 but I think expectations were largely unreasonable to begin with. Brown is a talented player with good but not great tools. He went backwards at the plate this year and I don’t know that he will ever hit enough to fit near the top of the order. All the same, Brown can be a solidly valuable big leaguer if the bat comes along. Joe Panik’s future in San Fran became a lot less clear with Marco Scutaro signing a 3 year deal yesterday. Its easy to peg him for a utility role given his lack of power and lackluster defensive capabilities at shortstop… but he has a knack for barreling up balls and I feel he’s a guy who can play above his tools if given an extended shot at a starting job (at second base). Martin Agosta was a late riser before the draft in June and is a talented arm. His future role is unclear at this point, but I’m inclined to give the Giants the benefit of the doubt here as they’ve had good luck developing these types recently.
Clayton Blackburn surprised many this year with some great numbers, but neither the velo nor projection are there to back it up. Its hard to envision Blackburn as more than a back to mid rotation starter and he still has a lot of work to do to get there. Andrew Susac seemed like a steal to me in the 2nd round last year, but a lot of that had to do with the dearth of catching in the draft class, to be fair. Susac is more a guy who is solid across the board than particularly good at anything. Susac should at least profile as a decent backup catcher. Mike Kickham is another college lefty with good size and better than average velo (esp. for a LHP). I’m not sure there’s more than a backend profile here but – again- the Giants have been very good with getting the most out of these arms. Kickham, like most of these guys, would fit very well in relief as a backup plan if his command and control doesn’t improve enough. I found Eric Surkamp a tough guy to rank last year… and it was twice as difficult a year later with no new data or observations. Let’s just say he’s closer to Blackburn than he is to Crick. This farm was incredibly shallow a couple years back and the Giants have greatly improved in that direction. A lot of work remains, though. Another draft like 2012′s would do a lot of good.
LHP Kyle Crick (Chris Blessing)
OF Gary Brown (Al Skorupa)
SS/2B Joe Panik (Steve Fiorindo)
RHP Clayton Blackburn (Chris Blessing)