Even though the San Francisco Giants’ system is loaded with depth on the mound, it’s also devoid of an impact position prospect headed into the 2013 season.
The only near big-league-ready hitters in their system are outfielders Gary Brown and Francisco Peguero, who are both coming off a down year in 2012. And while I’m leery of Joe Panik and Andrew Susac, they each have the necessary tools to reach the major leagues by the end of the 2014 season.
The pride of the organization is undoubtedly their trio of right-handed pitching prospects in Kyle Crick, Clayton Blackburn and Chris Stratton. Despite their lack of experience, both individually and collectively, they could conceivably be reunited in the major league rotation by 2015 .
The Giants also house numerous bats with power potential in Mac Williamson, Ricky Oropesa and Adam Duvall, though each player will have to improve the utility of said power before reaching the major leagues.
Having said all that, here’s a look at the San Francisco Giants’ top 10 prospects heading into spring training.
DOB: 7/15/1990 (Age: 22)
Height/Weight: 6’4”, 240
Drafted/Signed: Third round, 2012 (Wake Forest)
Scouting Notes: Physically strong and mature at 6’4”, 240 pounds; doesn’t involve much projection; right-handed hitter with plus raw power to all fields; lacks elite bat speed; hands can be somewhat dead at the plate, which hurts the projection of his hit tool; needs to be more aggressive at the plate and refine his approach; surprisingly good athlete for his size; some explosive actions; solid-average wheels play better in the outfield than on the basepaths; plus arm strength and power ideal for right field.
Spring Training Forecast: Participating in his first minor league camp, Williamson will use the spring to fine-tune his swing as he prepares for a full-season debut.
2013 Outlook: After an impressive showing last summer in the Short-Season Northwest League, the 22-year-old will likely make the jump directly to High-A San Jose in the California League, where he’ll have the potential to post more gaudy power numbers.
DOB: 3/22/1990 (Age: 22)
Height/Weight: 6’2”, 210
Drafted/Signed: Second round, 2010 (Oregon State University)
Scouting Notes: Showcases impressive athleticism behind the plate for his size (6’2”, 210 pounds); projects to be average defensive catcher in big leagues thanks to ability to box the baseball and above-average arm strength; speed is above-average relative to position.
Right-handed hitter struggles to make consistent contact due to lengthy swing, high leg kick and choppy load; has above-average raw power but is yet to tap into it with consistency; timing can get out of sync easily, as he lands too hard on front side; gets pull-happy and needs to work on an up-the-middle/opposite-field approach.
Spring Training Forecast: Headed into his second big-league spring training, the Giants will attempt to gauge his development over the last year and determine his proximity to the major leagues.
2013 Outlook: Regarded as the team’s top catching prospect after trading Tommy Joseph to the Phillies last summer, Susac will move up a level to Double-A. However, there’s a decent chance that his long, high-effort swing will be exploited at the more advanced level.
DOB: 6/1/1988 (Age: 24)
Height/Weight: 5’11”, 195
Drafted/Signed: August 2005 (Dominican Republic)
Scouting Notes: 24-year-old used to be one of organization’s more toolsy players before suffering a right knee injury in 2011; has never regained the above-average speed that led to 40 stolen bases in 2010—swiped only one bag at Triple-A Fresno last season, but tallied three in majors as late-season call-up.
Showcases impressive hand-eye coordination and gets the barrel on the ball with consistency; overall game also features too much swing-and-miss; power has never developed as anticipated; defense and arm strength is best suited for either corner outfield spot.
Spring Training Forecast: After reaching the major leagues as a September call-up last season, Peguero will likely compete for a spot on the Giants’ bench to open the year.
2013 Outlook: Plagued by injuries for most of the 2012 season, the 24-year-old could be in store for a solid bounce-back campaign, which will presumably begin in Triple-A unless he makes the Opening Day roster.
DOB: 1/13/1989 (Age: 24)
Height/Weight: 6’4”, 210
Drafted/Signed: Fifth round, 2010 (College of Charleston)
Scouting Notes: Projects to be a closer at big-league level with a power frame and easy mid-90s fastball; has relied on ability to blow heater by hitters up in the zone, though he was touched up this past season upon reaching Triple-A Fresno; slider flashes plus potential with late, tight break that generates swing-and-misses; changeup continues to come along but may not even be necessary in a late-inning role; shouldn’t take him long to reach major leagues once he refines command, provided that he stays healthy.
Spring Training Forecast: Headed to major league camp, Hembree will look to improve his overall command, and more importantly parlay his strong performance in the 2012 Arizona Fall League into a spot on the Opening Day roster
2013 Outlook: Although their bullpen is basically set for the upcoming season, Hembree could still sway opinion with a lights-out performance this spring. He’ll likely open the year in Triple-A bullpen, though his late-inning potential could have him in the major leagues by the All-Star break.
DOB: 4/7/1991 (Age: 21)
Height/Weight: 6’1”, 180
Drafted/Signed: Second round, 2012 (St. Mary’s)
Scouting Notes: Fastball is most effective in low 90s and down in the zone; has been gunned as high as 94-96 mph, though he sacrifices command at higher velocity; will manipulate fastball to generate cut; works in an average slider that has room to improve; would benefit from adding a changeup to complete arsenal.
Projection as a starting pitcher is dependent upon ability to flood the strike zone and command of entire arsenal; his fastball-cutter-slider arsenal gives him a more realistic chance of reaching his ceiling as a reliever.
Spring Training Forecast: Participating in minor league camp, will try to establish a more consistent feel for his arsenal before an imminent full-season debut.
2013 Outlook: Given his background as a college pitcher, Agosta could make the jump to Low-A for his full-season debut. Intent on developing the right-hander as a starter, the Giants are hopeful that his fringy four-pitch mix and deceptive delivery will result in a quick ascension through their system.
DOB: 10/30/1990 (Age: 22)
Height/Weight: 6’1”, 190
Drafted/Signed: First round, 2011 (St. John’s University)
Scouting Notes: Left-handed hitter has short stroke and impressive bat-to-ball ability; tough out who’s adept to manipulating counts and coaxing plenty of walks; may never feature more than gap power, but is adept to spraying the ball from line-to-line and keeps bat head in zone; lack of speed impedes his projection as top-of-the-order bat.
Above-average defensive shortstop who relies on instincts and positioning; release is smooth and ability to gain momentum towards target improves his accuracy; arm strength is only fringy and possibly best suited for second base; given Giants’ lack of middle-infield prospects, Panik could debut in big league ahead of schedule.
Spring Training Forecast: With a strong spring in big league camp, Panik could put himself on the major league radar. He’ll likely be shifted to second base with the next two years, so expect the Giants to offer him playing time at both middle-infield positions.
2013 Outlook: With an advanced hit tool and mature approach, Panik will move up to Double-A to open the 2013 season, with a chance of finishing the year in Triple-A.
DOB: 8/22/1990 (Age: 22)
Height/Weight: 6’3”, 186
Drafted/Signed: First round, 2012 (Mississippi State)
Scouting Notes: 6’2”, 197-pound right-hander has a projectable frame, and his overall feel for pitching has continually improved; fastball registers in the low-90s with late, arm-side life, and he’ll occasionally scrape mid-90s early in starts.
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 has quickly improved and could have him moving quickly beginning this season; mixes in an average curveball that gives him a solid three-pitch mix; I think that a changeup would be more useful than the second breaking ball.
Spring Training Forecast: Because a concussion prematurely ended his season in mid-August and prevented him from participating in the instructional league, the Giants prefer that Stratton work his way back into form in minor league spring training.
2013 Outlook: Depending on how he looks this spring, Stratton could make the jump to High-A to open the 2013 season, where he’d pitching behind Kyle Crick and Clayton Blackburn in the starting rotation.
DOB: 9/28/1988 (Age: 24)
Height/Weight: 6’1”, 190
Drafted/Signed: First round, 2010 (Cal State Fullerton)
Scouting Notes: Was one of the game’s better position prospects last year at High-A San Jose; regressed as expected at Double-A last year; production trailed off once outside the hitter-friendly California League; 24-year-old will likely reach big leagues this due to plus speed and defense in center field; showcases excellent instincts in center and gets good reads.
Doesn’t utilize speed at the plate and needs to improve on-base skills; leadoff-hitter type due to speed and potential to stick at up-the-middle position; not a fan of his swing: starts hands too close to body, gets out on front side too early and frequently casts hands around ball; makes too much weak contact; given his speed, Brown’s lack of base-stealing prowess is disconcerting and will have to improve in a hurry.
Spring Training Forecast: Entering his third spring in major league camp, Brown is a long-shot to make the Opening Day roster unless he can show a vastly improved hit tool and secondary skills.
2013 Outlook: Brown will continue to move up the organizational ladder to Triple-A due to his outstanding speed and defensive prowess in center field. However, unless he can regain his original projection as a leadoff hitter, it’s difficult to envision the 24-year-old as anything more than a fourth outfielder.
DOB: 1/6/1993 (Age: 20)
Height/Weight: 6’3”, 220
Drafted/Signed: 16th round, 2011 (Edmond Santa Fe HS, Okla.)
Scouting Notes: 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; 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; 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; secondary arsenal is highlighted by a solid-average curveball that induces whiffs and should continue to improve; mixes in a slider and changeup, the latter of which has nice fade and will likely be at least big-league average offering.
Spring Training Forecast: Headed to minor league camp, the organization is hopeful that Blackburn can further develop his secondary offerings this spring.
2013 Outlook: Due to the fact that the right-hander already has a legitimate feel for his arsenal and showcased advanced command in his full-season debut last year, Blackburn will continue to thrive at High-A in 2013. In fact, he could be the first arm in the High-A rotation to receive a promotion to Double-A.
DOB: 11/30/1992 (Age: 20)
Height/Weight: 6’4”, 220
Drafted/Signed: First round, 2011 (Sherman HS, Texas)
Scouting Notes: Possesses highly projectable frame at 6’4”, 220 pounds and has little mileage on his arm; lack of experience can also be attributed to overall rawness; present plus fastball at 94-97 mph, but struggles to command the pitch with consistency.
Curveball is still a work-in-progress, but flashes plus potential when thrown with tight spin; still working on getting on top of pitch rather than coming around the side; changeup vastly improved over the course of 2012 season and should be at least a third above-average offering; aggressively attacks hitters and maintain consistent approach even when command is shaky; has the potential to be the Giants’ next homegrown, frontline starter.
Spring Training Forecast: Crick will head to minor league camp with the goal of improving his consistency and command, as well as developing a more reliable changeup.
2013 Outlook: Crick will open the 2013 season at the front of the High-A starting rotation in hitter-friendly California League, where he should continue to miss plenty of bats. And if the right-hander’s command matures over the course of the season, he could even finish the year at Double-A.