San Francisco Giants: Stock Up, Stock Down for Top 10 Prospects for Week 5

Mark Reynolds@@markreynolds33Correspondent IIMay 5, 2013

San Francisco Giants: Stock Up, Stock Down for Top 10 Prospects for Week 5

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    The defending champion San Francisco Giants enter play on Sunday night in first place in the National League West with an 18-12 record. Their minor league affiliates are playing well, too.

    The San Jose Giants are in second place at 19-10 in the High-A California League. The Augusta Green Jackets are in third place at 17-11 in the Low-A Southern Atlantic League. The Triple-A Fresno Grizzlies are just 15-15, but they're only two games back of first place in the Pacific Coast League. The Giants' Double-A affiliate—the Richmond Squirrels—have the organization's worst record at 14-15.

    Minor league baseball isn't really about wins and losses, however. Instead, it's about having talent that can help the big league team via promotions or trades.

    The Giants are a little light on position players in the farm system right now. Graduating Pablo Sandoval, Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt to the majors in recent seasons has depleted some of the talent. The real strength of the current minor league system is the pitching depth.

    Let's take a look at how those arms and the rest of the top prospects did in the fifth week of the season.


    All statistics and standings in this article are courtesy of and

No. 1: Clayton Blackburn

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    2013 Stats: 5 GP, 2-0 W-L, 2.57 ERA, 28 IP, 21 H, 8 R, 3 HR, 4 BB, 33 K

    Clayton Blackburn's earned run total doubled this past week when he allowed four in six innings of work. He also doubled his walk total from two to four.

    Even after his worst start of the year, Blackburn's 2.57 ERA and 33-to-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio are extremely impressive for a 20-year-old pitching against competition that is predominantly much older than him.

    He remains the best prospect in the system. He's also the pitcher most likely to eventually join stalwarts Madison Bumgarner and Matt Cain in the San Francisco rotation.

    Stock Watch: Up

No. 2: Kyle Crick

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    2013 Stats: 3 GS, 0-1 W-L, 0.93 ERA, 9.2 IP, 10 H, 6 R, 9 BB, 12 K

    Kyle Crick remains sidelined with an oblique injury that he suffered in his third start of the season back on April 18th. He entered the season as the top ranked prospect in the system. However, Blackburn has outperformed him significantly over the first month of the season at San Jose.

    Stock Watch: Even

No. 3: Chris Stratton

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    2013 Stats: 5 GS, 2-2 W-L, 2.83 ERA, 28.2 IP, 18 H, 9 R, 1 HR, 11 BB, 36 K

    Chris Stratton took his second loss of the year last week for Augusta. He allowed five hits, three walks and three runs over six innings while striking out eight. He's now struck out 33 hitters over his last 23.2 innings of work.

    Stratton is 22 years old, which is a bit old for a first-round pick in Low-A ball. It will be interesting to see how quickly the Giants move him up the chain this season if he continues to pitch effectively.

    Stock Watch: Even

No. 4: Joe Panik

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    2013 Stats (through Saturday):  .304/.391/.411 (BA/OBP/SLG), .801 OPS, 8 2B, 2 3B, 0 HR

    It was another solid week for Joe Panik—the top hitting prospect in the system. He went 8-for-24 with a triple, three doubles and three more walks. He leads Richmond regulars in walks and is second on the team in on-base percentage.

    Panik isn't going to hit for much power in the big leagues. However, his contact ability and patience will make him a solid contributor for the Giants in the near future.

    He's only 22 years old, which is young for the Double-A level. Thus, there's still time for him to develop a little more pop before reaching the show. 

    Stock Watch: Up

No. 5: Edwin Escobar

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    2013 Stats: 5 GS, 0-0 W-L, 2.16 ERA, 25 IP, 20 H, 6 R, 1 HR, 5 BB, 37 K

    Edwin Escobar had another solid outing for San Jose last week. He allowed his first home run of the year, but struck out eight more against zero walks in six innings of work. He allowed six hits and two runs.

    His ERA moved below Blackburn's with his latest gem, and his strikeout-to-walk ratio is inching closer, too. Escobar's strikeout-to-walk ratio is now 7.40 compared to 8.25 for Blackburn.

    The 21-year-old lefty sits in the low 90s with his fastball and can push it up to the mid 90s when needed. He also has a solid changeup and slider in his arsenal. He has a big league repertoire that minor league hitters are currently no match for.

    Stock Watch: Up

No. 6: Martin Agosta

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    2013 Stats: 5 GS, 3-1 W-L, 2.08 ERA, 26 IP, 19 H, 8 R, 2 HR, 10 BB, 35 K

    Martin Agosta allowed only three hits in his latest start, but one of them was a home run. He also walked three while striking out eight in five innings of work.

    Aogsta features a fastball in the low 90s, a cutter and a curve. Agosta may need to develop a changeup to stick as a starter long-term, as lefties are hitting .350 against him so far this year. A changeup could help him neutralize opposite-handed hitters. 

    Agosta, the Giants' second-round pick last year, has slightly out-pitched Stratton thus far at Augusta. His 2.08 ERA and 3.50 strikeout-to-walk ratio are a bit better than Stratton's (2.83 ERA, 3.27 strikeout-to-walk ratio).

    Stock Watch: Even

No. 7: Andrew Susac

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    2013 Stats (through Saturday): .304/.389/.557 (BA/OBP/SLG), .946 OPS, 8 2B, 4 HR

    The Giants may have found another gem in Andrew Susac. They nabbed Susac in the second round of the 2011 draft after he slipped down draft boards possibly due to a broken hamate bone suffered in his final season at Oregon State.

    Susac is somewhat similar to Brandon Crawford, who dropped all the way down to the fourth round in 2008 after a disappointing final season at UCLA. Crawford is now arguably the top defensive shortstop in baseball and a vastly improved hitter.

    The hamate injury may have hampered Susac's power last season at San Jose when he slugged just .380 and hit nine home runs. He seems to be fully recovered now as he's already hit four homers while slugging .557 through the season's first month at Double-A. That's impressive work for a catcher that recently turned 22 years old.

    Susac raised his OPS by more than 100 points last week. He went 7-for-17 with two home runs and two doubles. If Susac keeps hitting like that, it isn't hard to imagine him teaming up with Buster Posey to form one of the game's top catching tandems.

    Stock Watch: Up

No. 8: Mac Williamson

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    2013 Stats (through Saturday): .248/.327/.406 (BA/OBP/SLG), .733 OPS, 5 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR

    Mac Williamson got back on track with a solid week for San Jose. He went 9-for-23 with two doubles and a home run to raise his OPS from .657 to .733.

    He got off to a scorching hot start to the season before going through a rough cold spell. Baseball is a game of constant adjustments, and it appears that Williamson has made a nice adjustment to turn things back around. 

    After hitting nine home runs in just 131 at-bats after the Giants drafted him in the third round last year, Williamson entered the season as the organization's top power hitting prospect. Susac has stolen that label from him in the early going, but there's a lot of season left for Williamson to emerge as the right fielder of the future.

    Stock Watch: Up

No. 9: Heath Hembree

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    2013 Stats: 13 GP, 1-0 W-L, 2.51 ERA, 14.1 IP, 11 H, 4 R, 3 HR, 3 BB, 16 K, 7 Saves

    Heath Hembree was hit hard in both of his appearances last week. He allowed five hits, two home runs and two runs in 3.1 innings of work.

    Despite the tough week, Hembree remains the top relief prospect in the system. He's had a solid year thus far for Fresno with seven saves and a 2.51 ERA. He's also shown improved control by walking only three in 14.1 innings after walking 21 in 43 innings last year.

    The Giants bullpen has been a strength of the team in 2013. They are second in the league in bullpen ERA. While that's positive for the Giants, it's prevented them from needing to call on Hembree thus far. If the bullpen begins to falter, the Giants have a nice insurance policy waiting in Fresno in Hembree.

    Stock Watch: Even

No. 10: Gary Brown

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    2013 Stats (through Saturday): .185/.248/.286 (BA/OBP/SLG), .534 OPS, 2/5 SB, 5 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR

    It was another rough week for Gary Brown. He went just 4-for-27 with no walks and seven strikeouts. His .248 on-base percentage and 7-to-26 walk-to-strikeout ratio are not going to get it done out of the leadoff spot.

    The Giants' 2010 first-round pick looked headed for stardom two years ago when he hit .336 for San Jose. He got off to a poor start at Richmond last year but recovered to hit .279 in a tough hitter's league. His rough start at Fresno is more disconcerting because of how conducive the Pacific Coast League is to offense.

    It's still too early to write Brown off completely. Players who rely on their speed sometimes take longer to develop.

    The speedy Carlos Gomez of the Brewers is a good example of that. He looked like a bench player through the first five years of his career until he finally broke out last year. He's hitting .373 for the Brewers right now and appears to be a potential All-Star.

    The Giants have to hope Brown follows the same career path as Gomez.

    Stock Watch: Down

Others to Note

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    As predicted here last week, Francisco Peguero got called back to the big leagues after hitting .415 for Fresno. He helped the Giants in his first game on Saturday with a double, a steal and a run in their win over the Dodgers.

    Michael Kickham had his best start of the season for Fresno last week. He struck out eight over 7.1 shutout innings. His ERA is 6.00 over six starts, but he's struck out 33 in 30 innings of work.

    Chris Heston pitched better in his latest start. He allowed three runs over 6.2 innings while striking out six.

    Reliever Dan Runzler was knocked around for four hits, three runs, two walks and a home run over two innings of work last week.

    Roger Kieschnick is hitting .303/.331/.560 with eight doubles, four triples and four homers for Fresno. His teammate Brett Pill is hitting .343/.380/.646 with six home runs and 31 RBI. They should both get a shot in San Francisco at some point this year.

    Adalberto Mejia is worthy of attention behind Blackburn, Escobar and Crick in the San Jose rotation. He's 2-1 with a 4.07 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 24.1 innings so far this year.

    Javier Herrera was once a top prospect in the Oakland system. He's 28 years old now, so he's no longer a prospect. However, he's having a nice year at Double-A Richmond—hitting .290/.398/.490 thus far.