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San Francisco Giants: Stock Up, Stock Down for Top 10 Prospects for Week 6

Mark ReynoldsCorrespondent IIMay 12, 2013

San Francisco Giants: Stock Up, Stock Down for Top 10 Prospects for Week 6

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    Welcome to another installment of our weekly look at the San Francisco Giants' top prospects.

    Before delving into the stock watch for this week, it's instructive to talk about what goes into this list of top prospects. This Top 10 list is based partly on my own observations and opinions, but it's also based on the work of prospect experts.

    Keith Law of ESPN, Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus, John Sickels of SB Nation and Marc Hulet of FanGraphs are the four prospect experts whom I rely on the most in compiling these rankings. Those four created their own lists of top Giants prospects this offseason, and I've used their work to help create this list.

    However, since things have changed since the season began over a month ago, I've continued to make some minor tweaks as the year has gone along.

    With that introduction in mind, here's the weekly look at the top prospects in the Giants system.

     

    All statistics and standings in this article are courtesy of MiLB.com and Baseball-Reference.com.

No. 1: Clayton Blackburn

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    2013 Stats at High-A San Jose (through Saturday): 6 GS, 2-0 W-L, 3.00 ERA, 33 IP, 24 H, 13 R, 6 BB, 42 K

    Clayton Blackburn struck out nine more hitters in his first start of last week for San Jose. However, he also gave up five runs and a home run in five innings of work.

    On Sunday, he was hit hard again. He gave up five hits, four walks and five runs in four innings of work. He's allowed 16 runs over his last 20 innings of work spanning four starts.

    Blackburn still remains the best prospect in the system through his first seven starts. He's going through some struggles right now, but that will ultimately help him learn to make adjustments in the long run. 

    This is the first time in his career that he's had to deal with failure. Getting through this recent rough patch will be a huge key in his development.

    Stock Watch: Down 

No. 2: Kyle Crick

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

    Kyle Crick has the best pure stuff in the system, but he remains out of action with an oblique injury that he suffered back on April 18.

    Stock Watch: Even

No. 3: Chris Stratton

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    2013 Stats at Low-A Augusta: 6 GS, 3-2 W-L, 3.03 ERA, 35.2 IP, 24 H, 12 R, 12 BB, 42 K

    Chris Stratton continues to pitch effectively for Augusta. He completed seven innings for the first time this season in his latest start. He allowed six hits, three runs, one walk and a home run while striking out six.

    Stratton has an impressive 3.03 ERA and 3.50 strikeout-to-walk ratio so far this year. He looks poised for a promotion to San Jose at some point this season.

    Stock Watch: Even

No. 4: Joe Panik

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    2013 Stats at Double-A Richmond: .301/.386/.398 (BA/OBP/SLG), .784 OPS, 9 2B, 2 3B

    Joe Panik entered play on Sunday in the midst of a seven-game hitting streak before going 0-for-2 with two walks. He went 9-for-28 (.321 batting average) during his recent hitting streak.

    He's walked 19 times against just 13 strikeouts so far this season. That's impressive plate discipline and bat control for a 22-year-old playing against the stiff competition of Double-A.

    Panik, the Giants' first-round pick in 2011, has emerged as the top hitter in the system so far this season.

    Stock Watch: Up

No. 5: Edwin Escobar

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    2013 Stats at High-A San Jose: 6 GS, 0-0 W-L, 3.04 ERA, 26.2 IP, 23 H, 9 R, 6 BB, 38 K

    Edwin Escobar was knocked out in the second inning of his start last week after allowing three hits, a walk and three runs. The good news is that he wasn't injured. Instead, he was pulled for reaching a pitch count limit in the second inning.

    Escobar has struggled with his pitch efficiency so far this season. That lack of efficiency has limited him to just 26.2 innings over his first six starts. His 38-6 ratio of strikeouts to walks shows his dominance, but all those strikeouts have jacked up his pitch counts.

    Escobar will need to learn to pitch to contact more in order to limit his pitch counts and last deeper into games.

    Stock Watch: Down

No. 6: Andrew Susac

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    2013 Stats at Double-A Richmond: .287/.387/.521 (BA/OBP/SLG), .909 OPS, 10 2B, 4 HR

    Andrew Susac has emerged as one of the Giants' top offensive prospects with a stellar first month at Double-A. He's hit .313/.425/.625 with six extra-base hits over his last 10 games.

    Even though Buster Posey is under contract for the next decade, Susac could still force his way onto the scene. As Posey ages, he may catch less often and play more at first base or even third base. If Susac emerges as the second-best catcher in the organization, the Giants can eventually carve out a roll for him.

    If he keeps tearing up Double-A, his future with the Giants could come quicker than originally expected.

    Stock Watch: Up

No. 7: Martin Agosta

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    2013 Stats at Low-A Augusta: 6 GS, 4-1 W-L, 2.01 ERA, 31.1 IP, 22 H, 9 R, 13 BB, 45 K

    Martin Agosta struck out 10 more hitters over 5.1 innings in his start last week. He allowed three hits, three walks and just one run to lower his ERA to 2.01. He's now second in the South Atlantic League with 45 strikeouts on the year.

    The one thing he'll have to improve to earn a promotion this season is his walk rate. He's walked 13 in 31.1 innings (3.7 BB/9) after walking nine in 10.2 innings last season.

    Stock Watch: Up

No. 8: Mac Williamson

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    2013 Stats at High-A San Jose: .273/.350/.438 (BA/OBP/SLG), .787 OPS, 7 2B, 4 HR

    Mac Williamson has gotten hot again for the San Jose Giants. He started the year on fire before going into a prolonged slump. Over his last 10 games, he's hit .333/.385/.472 to boost his OPS back near .800.

    He has 12 extra-base hits in 128 at-bats this season. His raw power is off the charts, which isn't surprising given his 6'5", 240-pound frame. He also runs pretty well for a man that large.

    He's the best offensive outfielder in the Giants' farm system right now.

    Stock Watch: Up

No. 9: Heath Hembree

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    2013 Stats at Triple-A Fresno: 16 GP, 1-0 W-L, 17 IP, 13 H, 4 R, 5 BB, 18 K, 10 Saves

    Heath Hembree had another solid week as the closer for Fresno. He pitched 2.2 shutout innings while earning three more saves.

    The Giants have passed him over for a promotion on two occasions so far this year. However, they may just want to get him so more minor league seasoning to make up for the time he lost to injury last year. Once he does come up, there's a good chance he'll never go back down.

    Hembree is the best reliever in the system. He's also the best bet to be the heir apparent to Brian Wilson and Sergio Romo as the Giants' closer of the future.

    Stock Watch: Up

No. 10: Gary Brown

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    2013 Stats at Triple-A Fresno: .208/.274/.313 (BA/OBP/SLG), .586 OPS, 8 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR

    Gary Brown has gotten his batting average up over the Mendoza Line (.200) again. He's hit safely in nine out of his last 10 games. Over that stretch, he's hit .273/.319/.386—which is a significant improvement from his terrible start to the season.

    Even with the recent improvement in his play, Brown is still hitting only .208 in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. He's also just 4-of-8 on stolen base attempts. Brown needs to show that he can use his speed to leg out more infield hits and to steal more bases.

    He's swinging the bat better lately, but he's still got a long way to go to get back to being the .336 hitter he was two years ago.

    Stock Watch: Even

Others to Note

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    The Giants drafted Roger Kieschnick in the third round during the same draft that netted them Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford. He's hitting .304/.347/.548 with 19 extra-base hits for Triple-A Fresno this year.

    Brett Pill continues to tear the cover off the ball for Fresno. He's hitting .341 with nine home runs and 47 RBI in 32 games thus far. However, the Giants currently have no plans to call him up, according to Andrew Baggarly of CSN Bay Area.

    Chris Heston was hit hard again last week for Fresno. He gave up 10 hits and five runs over five innings as his ERA rose to 6.18.

    Michael Kickham continued to pitch better for Fresno after a rough start to the season. He allowed six hits and three earned runs while striking out seven over 6.2 innings in his last start. He lowered his ERA down to 5.65. He's struck out 40 in 36.2 innings so far this season.

    Justin Fitzgerald earned a promotion to Fresno last week after three years at Double-A. He went 3-0 with a 1.09 ERA over six starts for Richmond to earn the promotion. He allowed nine hits and three runs over five innings in his first start for Fresno.

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