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San Francisco Giants: Stock Up, Stock Down for Top 10 Prospects for Week 7

Mark ReynoldsCorrespondent IINovember 18, 2016

San Francisco Giants: Stock Up, Stock Down for Top 10 Prospects for Week 7

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    The San Francisco Giants entered play on Sunday with the National League's third worst rotation ERA at 4.81.

    The good news is that help is on the way in the farm system. Clayton Blackburn, Kyle Crick, Chris Stratton, Martin Agosta, Edwin Escobar and Michael Kickham all have the tools to eventually help the beleaguered big league rotation. Some of those arms could also be used as trade bait if the Giants decide to seek a more experienced starter via the trade market.

    With Tim Lincecum, Barry Zito and Ryan Vogelsong all possibly headed to free agency this winter, the Giants could have as many as three openings in the rotation next year. Let's take a look at how the top arms and the rest of the prospects performed during the season's seventh week.

     

    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: 8 GS, 2-2 W-L, 4.39 ERA, 41 IP, 35 H, 23 R, 12 BB, 48 K

    It was a tough week for the top prospect in the system. Clayton Blackburn lost both of his starts while adding over a run to his ERA in the process. He allowed 11 hits, 10 runs and six walks over eight innings of work.

    Blackburn is a command and control pitcher without dominant, overpowering stuff. At the young age of 20, it's no surprise for him to run into trouble against the older competition at High-A San Jose, especially since he doesn't blow the ball by hitters. 

    He'll have to make an adjustment soon to retain his status as the top prospect in the system. The odds are in his favor given his outstanding performance last year and his hot start to open this season.

    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 remains on the shelf with an oblique injury suffered one month ago. He's currently rehabbing at extended spring training down in Arizona.

    Crick, a supplemental first-round pick back in 2011, has the best pure stuff of any starter in the system. He'll have a chance to overtake Blackburn as the top prospect once he gets back on the field.

    Stock Watch: Even

No. 3: Chris Stratton

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    2013 Stats at Low-A Augusta: 7 GS, 4-2 W-L, 3.03 ERA, 42.2 IP, 34 H, 16 R, 13 BB, 47 K

    Chris Stratton is having a solid but unspectacular season for Augusta. In his latest start, he allowed 10 hits, four runs and a home run over seven innings of work.

    His 3.03 ERA and 3.62 strikeout-to-walk ratio are good numbers. However, they're not as impressive when you factor in the fact that he's already 22 years old.

    That seems like a young age, but it's really not for a first-round pick from last season pitching in Low-A ball. For comparison, as a 19-year-old at Low-A last season, Clayton Blackburn put up a 2.54 ERA and 7.94 strikeout-to-walk ratio. That's why Blackburn remains the current top prospect in the system despite his recent struggles.

    Stock Watch: Even

No. 4: Joe Panik

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    2013 Stats at Double-A Richmond: .295/.383/.385 (BA/OBP/SLG), .768 OPS, 10 2B, 2 3B

    Joe Panik has cooled off some recently after going on a tear in the Eastern League. He went just 6-for-25 (.240) with one extra-base hit last week.

    However, he walked five times to keep his on-base percentage above .380. He's walked 22 times against only 15 strikeouts in 181 plate appearances this season. 

    The 2010 first-round pick remains the top hitter in the Giants farm system despite a mediocre week at the plate.

    Stock Watch: Even

No. 5: Andrew Susac

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    2013 Stats at Double-A Richmond: .259/.359/.491 (BA/OBP/SLG), .850 OPS, 11 2B, 5 HR

    Like Panik, Andrew Susac has cooled off from a prolonged hot streak. His OPS dropped by 60 points as he went 2-for-20 with eight strikeouts last week.

    On the bright side, one of Susac's hits last week was a three-run homer. He's got 16 extra-base hits, 20 RBI and a .491 slugging percentage this season. Those are impressive numbers for a 22-year-old catcher at Double-A. 

    However, he's also struck out 35 times in 112 at-bats this season. He'll have to cut down the whiffs to speed up his advancement to the big leagues.

    Stock Watch: Down


No. 6: Martin Agosta

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    2013 Stats at Low-A Augusta: 8 GS, 5-1 W-L, 2.88 ERA, 40.2 IP, 32 H, 15 R, 20 BB, 57 K

    Martin Agosta had one good start and one bad start for Augusta last week.

    He allowed six hits, two runs and two walks while striking out seven over six innings in his first starts of the week. In his next start, he was knocked out in the fourth inning after allowing four hits, five walks, a home run and four runs.

    As with Stratton, it's been a bit of a mixed bag for Agosta this season. He's struck out 57 in 40.2 innings while putting up an ERA under 3.00. However, he's also a 22-year-old pitching in the lower minor leagues.

    The true test for Agosta will come when he faces tougher competition. Until then, he needs to keep striking out hitters at Augusta to force the Giants to promote him up the chain.

    Stock Watch: Even

No. 7: Mac Williamson

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    2013 Stats at High-A San Jose (through Saturday): .248/.329/.396 (BA/OBP/SLG), .725 OPS, 8 2B, 4 HR

    Mac Williamson's roller coaster season continued with another slump last week. He went just 2-for-21 with nine strikeouts to lower his batting average from .273 down to .248.

    Williamson has tremendous power potential. However, he's struck out 44 times in 149 at-bats this season. He's going to have to make more contact to avoid the prolonged slumps that have plagued his season to this point.

    Stock Watch: Down

No. 8: Heath Hembree

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    2013 Stats at Triple-A Fresno (through Saturday): 19 GP, 1-0 W-L, 2.70 ERA, 20 IP, 17 H, 6 R, 5 BB, 21 K, 12 Saves

    Heath Hembree earned two more saves by retiring six straight hitters to open the week. However, in his final appearance of the week he allowed four hits and two runs.

    Hembree has saved 12 games this year while striking out over a hitter per inning. He's also cut his walk rate in half from last season. He walked 4.4 hitters per nine innings pitched (W/9) last season. He's dropped that to 2.2 W/9 thus far in 2013.

    Hembree may have to wait for an injury or a performance issue in the Giants bullpen to get his first call to the big leagues. Now that he's improved his control, he has a legitimate chance to be the closer of the future for the Giants.

    Stock Watch: Up



No. 9: Michael Kickham

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    2013 Stats at Triple-A Fresno: 9 GS, 2-4 W-L, 4.72 ERA, 47.2 IP, 54 H, 31 R, 19 BB, 50 K

    Michael Kickham has re-established himself as a top prospect with a recent hot streak at Triple-A Fresno. He's allowed 20 hits, six walks and seven runs over his last 25 innings of work while striking out 25 hitters.

    In his latest start, Kickham allowed just one unearned run over six innings while striking out eight. He's now second in the Pacific Coast League in strikeouts.

    Kickham's biggest problem throughout his career has been his control. He's cut his walk rate from 4.5 per nine innings pitched last year down to 3.6 this season. His walk rate is still a little bit high, but he's progressing in the right direction. 

    If the Giants decide give Ryan Vogelsong and his 8.06 ERA a break from the rotation, Kickham could get the call.

    Stock Watch: Up

No. 10: Gary Brown

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    2013 Stats at Triple-A Fresno (through Saturday): .205/.275/.307 (BA/OBP/SLG), .582 OPS, 10 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR

    Gary Brown continued his struggles at Fresno last week. After a three-hit game last Sunday, he went just 1-for-16 during the rest of the week.

    Brown was also caught stealing in his only attempt last week. The speedster is now just 4-for-9 on stolen base attempts this year.

    Brown remains on this list because of his exceptional season at San Jose two years ago. He hit .336/.407/.519 and looked like the center fielder of the future for the Giants. However, the future has come, and Brown is still in the minor leagues trying to get back to being the prospect he once was.

    Stock Watch: Down

Honorable Mention

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    Francisco Peguero went 3-for-16 over six games with the Giants before getting sent back to Fresno.

    Brett Pill was recalled to take Peguero's place. He hit two doubles in six at-bats, but was sent back to Fresno when the Giants needed another pitcher.

    Chris Heston pitched seven shutout innings to lower is ERA to 5.33. He's competing with Kickham at Fresno to be the guy in line for a call-up if the Giants need a starter.

    Edwin Escobar was replaced with Kickham on the top-ten list this week. He was hit hard in his first start of the week, but he bounced back with six solid innings on Sunday. He has a 3.53 ERA and 48 strikeouts against only 10 walks over 35.2 innings at San Jose this season.

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