With the Giants’ pitchers and catchers set to report Tuesday in Scottsdale, it’s time to take a look at the top players in the Giants’ farm system.
Trades in recents have left the cupboard a little bare in the Giants’ farm system.
Most painful of all was the deal that sent pitcher Zach Wheeler to the Mets in 2011 for Carlos Beltran. That left the Giants without a postseason bid in 2011 and Beltran in a Cardinals uniform in 2012. Meanwhile, Wheeler opens the 2013 campaign as the No. 8 overall prospect by MLB.com and primed to work his way into Mets’ rotation.
Now, if he had remained with the Giants, he wouldn’t be working his way into the rotation in 2012. But the futures of Tim Lincecum and Barry Zito uncertain for 2013, it would have been nice to still have Wheeler in the wings in San Francisco.
Instead, the Giants’ top-ranked prospect is 20 and still a couple years away of helping out the big club.
Here’s a look at MoreSplashHits’ rankings of the 10 top prospects.
1. RHP Kyle Crick, 20
A sandwich first-round pick in 2011 out of high school, Crick went 7-6 with 2.51 for Low A Augusta last season. He just turned 20 in November, so he’s still very young. He has a plus fastball with a good slider. He had a 1.28 WHIP. He’s still a bit raw with a 2015 projected big-league arrival.
2. RHP Chris Stratton, 22
The Giants’ No. 1 pick (20th overall) in the 2012 draft went 0-1 with 2.76 ERA in eight games for shortseason Class A Salem-Keizer. Because the system had become a little thin of MLB-ready pitchers, the Giants plucked Stratton out of Mississippi State. But because he moved from reliever to spot starter to full-time starter for the Bulldogs, it may be a little while before Stratton’s ready for the big time. He’ll likely head to Class A San Jose this season.
3. OF Gary Brown, 24
The Giants’ No. 1 prospect in 2012 slipped a notch in 2013 thanks to an uneven 2012 season for Double-A Richmond. He finished with .279 average on .347 OBP, which isn’t great. But considering his season got off to such a cold start, his strong finish and solid Arizona Fall League were encouraging. Speed is his game, but to utilize it properly he must learn the importance of getting on base by increasing walks and his contact rate. He’s likely to head to Fresno to open the season, but a call-up in 2013 is not out of the question.
4. SS Joe Panik, 22
The Giants’ first-round pick of 2011 had a solid yet unspectacular season at Class A San Jose. But that’s his M.O. — solid but unspectacular, on defense and with the bat. But he’s a contact specialist, walking 58 times to 54 strikeouts. He hit .297 with a .368 OBP, 7 HR, 76 RBI in 130 games. He figures to move over to 2B before arriving in the bigs. But with Brandon Crawford at SS and Marco Scutaro recently signed to a three-year deal, it may be a couple of years before Panik gets his shot at starting job.
5. RHP Heath Hembree, 24
If there was one prospect who looked like he was on the fast track to the bigs after last spring, it was Hembree. When Brian Wilson went on the DL last April, some thought the hard-throwing righty would get an early call. But the Giants kept him in Fresno, where he ran into a funk in June that culminated with him battling arm troubles. After a month on the DL, he finished the season with a 4.74 ERA with 15 saves and 36 Ks and 20 BB in 38 innings. He bounced back with a solid Arizona Fall League, which put him back on track for a 2013 call as the Giants’ “closer of the future.”
6. RHP Clayton Blackburn, 20
The 16th round pick in the 2011 draft out of high school went 8-4 with 2.54 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP. He looks like a 20-year-old Rick Reuschel. He has a 93-94 mph fastball with a curve and changeup, with command with all of his pitches. He’ll likely head to Class A San Jose with a big-league arrival date of 2015.
7. RHP Michael Kickham, 24
After a lackluster first full season in the Giants system in 2011, Kickham jumped from low Class A to Double-A Richmond in 2012, responding with an 11-10 mark with 3.05 ERA and 1.29 WHIP in 27 starts. He’s got a good sinking fastball that can run up to 93 mph, and can add a slider, curve and changeup. He needs to cut down on walks as he had 75 in 150.2 IP last season. He’ll head to Fresno this season with a chance to make the big club by season’s end.
8. OF Francisco Peguero, 24
Giants fans got a small glimpse of Peguero late last season, and it wasn’t too impressive. He went 3 for 16 with 7 strikeouts in limited play. At Triple-A, he hit .272 with 5 HR, 68 RBI. He’s a good contact player who doesn’t walk much. He has good speed and defense, who was slowed by knee surgery prior to 2012 season. He’ll likely go back to Fresno, but we could see him again in 2013.
9. RHP Martin Agosta, 21
A second-round pick in 2012 out of St. Mary’s College, Agosta posted a 4.22 ERA in five starts in rookie league last season. A small sample. Agosta has a 94 mph fastball with a good mix of secondary pitches. Some see him as a reliever in the future. Either way, he’s a couple of years away.
10. C Andrew Susac, 22
The Giants felt good about trading Tommy Joseph to Philadelphia in the Hunter Pence deal because they had Hector Sanchez as well as Susuc in the farm system. They took a chance picking him in the 2nd round in 2011 after he missed his final year at Oregon State with an injury. His first full season in the system was bumpy. He has power, but it didn’t show at San Jose last year. He hit 9 HR, 52 RBI with .244 average in 102 games. He walked 55 times, but also whiffed 100 times. But he showed himself as a good defensive backstop.