San Francisco Giants Prospects Who Have the Highest Ceilings
Despite the fact that the San Francisco Giants' farm system is not loaded with top prospects, there are still a few names who have the potential to be the next crop of successful home-grown players.
After Pablo Sandoval, Tim Lincecum, Madison Bumgarner, Brandon Belt, Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford flew through the minor league ranks and made it to the big leagues, the Giants' farm system has been depleted.
In fact, it was only a year ago that Robert Knapel ranked the Giants' farm system as the second-worst in the major leagues.
And while the Giants aren't necessarily oozing with top prospects in 2013, some have their farm system ranked as high as 17th-best in baseball.
Here are a few Giants prospects who have the highest ceilings.
Players Who Missed the Cut
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1. Gary Brown: His stock is free-falling at the moment, as his .194 batting average with 28 strikeouts in Triple-A Fresno is not what the San Francisco Giants' front office wants to see.
2. Chris Stratton: Stratton could end up being the first top pitching prospect to reach the majors.
3. Andrew Susac: The catcher is off to a good start at Double-A Richmond, batting .305 with four home runs and 14 RBI.
4. Adam Duvall: His raw power alone gets Duvall on this list—22 home runs in 2011 and 30 in 2012.
5. Michael Kickham: He is the best Giants prospect that no one is talking about.
With Gary Brown's recent struggles in Triple-A Fresno, Joe Panik has emerged as the team's top offensive prospect. And while his ceiling isn't as high as as Brown's, he's proven that he's more likely to reach his potential than Brown is.
Panik has done nothing but produce throughout his baseball career. He batted .398 during his junior year at St. John's University and continued to hit during his first three years in the San Francisco Giants' minor league system.
Panik lacks the physical tools that get scouts excited—power, speed, arm strength, etc.—but he's not necessarily an exciting player. Rather, you know what you're going to get from Panik, which is an excellent contact hitter who will grind through at-bats and simply put the ball in play.
Sound familiar? The last two everyday second basemen the Giants have fielded have been Freddy Sanchez and Marco Scutaro, who are both excellent contact hitters at the No. 2 hole in the lineup.
If Scutaro ages more quickly than the Giants anticipated, expect Panik to be next in line to take over at second base.
While Clayton Blackburn's stuff doesn't jump off the page at you, it's his impeccable control that has scouts kicking themselves for not selecting him in the first 16 rounds of the 2011 MLB draft.
In fact, it's his control that allowed him to be No. 2 in strikeout percentage (26.9), No. 1 in walk percentage (3.4) and No. 1 in strikeout-to-walk ratio in the South Atlantic league with the Augusta GreenJackets (via Chris Quick of Baycityball.com.)
As far as his stuff goes, he's got the prototypical low-90s fastball with a curveball, slider and changeup. While none of his stuff is overpowering, he's able to locate all of his pitches, which is essentially why he's the sixth overall prospect, according to Andrew Baggarly.
Considering the San Francisco Giants' track record of developing pitching, it's likely that we'll see Blackburn in San Francisco no later than 2016.
According to Andrew Baggarly, Kyle Crick is far and away the best prospect in the San Francisco Giants' farm system, and that is largely based on his potential.
The 6'4", 220-pound Crick has the ideal build for a starting pitcher, and has the stuff to match his large frame. His fastball travels from the mid-to-high 90s, and he has a devastating curveball to keep batters off balance.
At 20 years old, the sky is truly the limit for Crick, but it's a matter of whether or not he'll be able to put it all together. He shows glimpses of a future 1-2 starter in the majors but tends to lose his focus and mechanics at times.
He will also need to work on his control, as his 5.4 BB/9 ratio in Augusta in 2012 is too high.
Nonetheless, if Crick stays on track and continues to develop in the minor leagues, he'll be pitching right behind Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner in a matter of years.