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San Francisco Giants: Stock Up, Stock Down for Top 10 Prospects for Week 8

Mark ReynoldsCorrespondent IIMay 26, 2013

San Francisco Giants: Stock Up, Stock Down for Top 10 Prospects for Week 8

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    The San Francisco Giants have called up one of their top prospects for the first time this season. Manager Bruce Bochy announced on Sunday that Michael Kickham will replace injured starter Ryan Vogelsong in the rotation, according to Alex Pavlovic via Twitter.

    Kickham has put up a 4.33 ERA while striking out 54 hitters against 22 walks in 54 innings of work this year. The 24-year-old lefty has good stuff, including a fastball that tops out at 94 miles per hour.

    Let's take a look at how Kickham and the rest of the top prospects performed in the eighth week of the season.

     

    All statistics in this article are through Saturday (5/26/13) and courtesy of MiLB.com and Baseball-Reference.com.

No. 1: Clayton Blackburn

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    2013 Stats at High-A San Jose: 9 GS, 2-2 W-L, 4.40 ERA, 47 IP, 42 H, 26 R, 13 BB, 56 K

    Clayton Blackburn pitched better in his start last week after a rough four-start stretch. He allowed three runs on seven hits and one walk while striking out eight over six innings of work.

    Blackburn put up a 1.64 ERA in his first four starts of the year. He was then blasted for a 7.58 ERA in his next four starts before recovering with a quality start last week.

    Blackburn is having a solid overall year at San Jose. His strikeout, walk and home run rates are all very good for a 20-year-old pitching in the hitter-friendly California League. He's struck out 56, walked only 13 and allowed just four home runs over nine starts this season.

    Those strikeout, walk and home run numbers are why Blackburn remains the top prospect in the system despite his recent struggles. His 3.01 Fielding Independent Pitching line suggests that his 4.40 ERA will drop soon.

    Stock Watch: Up

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 last month. He's spent the last couple of weeks rehabbing the injury down in Arizona according to Joe Ritzo, the broadcaster for the San Jose Giants.

    Stock Watch: Even

No. 3: Chris Stratton

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    2013 Stats at Low-A Augusta: 8 GS, 5-2 W-L, 3.59 ERA, 47.2 IP, 42 H, 19 R, 17 BB, 49 K

    Chris Stratton earned his fifth win of the year last week. However, he allowed six hits, four walks and three runs while striking out only two over five innings.

    Stratton has pitched effectively this season at Low-A Augusta. He just hasn't dominated the way a 22-year-old first-round pick arguably should against that level of competition.

    He remains one of the top arms in the system, but he isn't pitching like a future front-line starter right now.

    Stock Watch: Even

No. 4: Joe Panik

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    2013 Stats at Double-A Richmond: .289/.383/.367 (BA/OBP/SLG), .749 OPS, 10 2B, 2 3B

    Joe Panik went just 6-for-24 without any extra-base hits last week. He drew five more walks to raise his total to 27 against only 17 strikeouts so far this season. 

    Panik has exceptional bat control and plate discipline. His .383 on-base percentage is outstanding.

    The one glaring issue on his stat line is the .367 slugging percentage. Only 12 of Panik's 52 hits have gone for extra bases, and he has yet to hit a home run this season.

    Panik is only 22 years old, which is young for the Double-A level. He'll need to develop a little more power to get to the big leagues. He has ample time to do so.

    With Marco Scutaro hitting .324 at second base for the Giants, there's no hurry for Panik right now.

    Stock Watch: Even

No. 5: Andrew Susac

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    2013 Stats at Double-A Richmond: .264/.381/.512 (BA/OBP/SLG), .892 OPS, 14 2B, 6 HR

    It was another good week for catcher Andrew Susac. He went 5-for-17 with seven walks, a home run and three doubles. He also struck out only twice in 24 trips to the plate.

    Of Susac's 34 hits this year, 20 have have gone for extra bases. He's also walked 24 times. That's an impressive combination of power and patience for a catcher.

    Stock Watch: Up

No. 6: Martin Agosta

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    2013 Stats at Low-A Augusta: 9 GS, 5-1 W-L, 2.45 ERA, 47.2 IP, 35 H, 15 R, 22 BB, 65 K

    Martin Agosta threw another gem last week. He struck out eight more hitters over seven shutout innings to lower his ERA to 2.45. He's now second in the South Atlantic League in strikeouts with 65.

    Agosta—the Giants' second-round pick last year—has outshone his teammate Chris Stratton to this point in the season. Agosta has put up a 2.45 ERA and a 2.95 strikeout-to-walk ratio, while Stratton has put up a 3.59 ERA and a 2.88 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

    The Giants used their first two picks of the draft last year on Stratton and Agosta to rebuild the farm system's pitching depth. They've both pitched pretty well this year. While neither guy is close to the big leagues, Agosta looks to be closer than Stratton right now.

    Stock Watch: Up

No. 7: Michael Kickham

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    2013 Stats at Triple-A Fresno: 9 GS, 3-4 W-L, 4.33 ERA, 54 IP, 58 H, 32 R, 22 BB, 54 K

    As detailed in the introduction, Kickham is the first top prospect to get the call to the big leagues for the Giants this year. He's certainly earned it with the way he's thrown the ball recently.

    He's gone 3-1 with a 1.72 ERA over his last five starts. He's struck out 29 against nine walks during that stretch. In his start last week, he allowed just four hits and one run over 6.1 innings of work.

    His control remains his biggest weakness. He's walked 22 in 54 innings this season after walking 75 in 150.2 innings last year.

    Despite the control issues, Kickham is the best starting pitching prospect the Giants have in the upper minors. He's deserving of the promotion to San Francisco.

    The next few weeks could serve as a long-term audition for Kickham. If he proves he can pitch effectively while Vogelsong is out, the Giants could turn a rotation spot over to him next year. Vogelsong, Barry Zito and Tim Lincecum could all potentially leave via free agency this winter, so the Giants may need to find three new starters.

    Stock Watch: Up

No. 8: Mac Williamson

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    2013 Stats at High-A San Jose: .247/.327/.399 (BA/OBP/SLG), .726 OPS, 8 2B, 5 HR

    Mac Williamson went 7-for-29 (.241) last week with a triple and a home run. He's got 15 extra-base hits—including five home runs—this season.

    Williamson has struggled to control the strike zone in between those extra-base hits. His 15-to-50 walk-to-strikeout ratio over 199 plate appearances has kept his batting average and on-base percentage down.

    Williamson will have to improve his plate discipline to fully tap into his outstanding raw power.

    Stock Watch: Even

No. 9: Heath Hembree

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    2013 Stats at Triple-A Fresno: 21 GP, 1-0 W-L, 3.68 ERA, 22 IP, 22 H, 9 R, 5 BB, 25 K, 13 Saves

    Heath Hembree picked the wrong time to start struggling at Triple-A Fresno. Over his last 10 games, he's put up a 5.73 ERA while allowing 16 hits and seven runs.

    The Giants recently chose to call up Sandy Rosario over Hembree when Santiago Casilla went on the disabled list. If Hembree had been pitching better, perhaps the Giants would have given him the call.

    Rosario has been hit hard thus far for the Giants. If Hembree can get back on track in the near future, he could follow Kickham to the big leagues.

    Stock Watch: Down

No. 10: Gary Brown

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    2013 Stats at Triple-A Fresno: .211/.282/.335 (BA/OBP/SLG), .617 OPS, 11 2B, 2 3B, 3 HR

    Gary Brown had a better performance last week. He went 7-for-28 (.250) with two home runs to boost his OPS from .582 to .617.

    Even with a decent week, Brown's overall season remains a disappointment to this point. He's hitting just .211 with 50 strikeouts in 217 plate appearances. He's also stolen only four bases after stealing 53 two years ago.

    The Giants need their former first-round pick to start to deliver on his former promise. He hit .336 two years ago, so the talent is obviously there.

    Perhaps last week was the beginning of a turnaround for Brown. 

    Stock Watch: Even

Honorable Mention

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    Hector Sanchez has hit an unimpressive .267/.333/.367 in 11 games since being sent back down to Fresno.

    Juan Perez could get a look with the Giants at some point this season. He's played six different positions in his minor league career. His positional versatility makes him an intriguing option as a utility man. He's hitting .316/.352/.535 with eight home runs for Fresno this season.

    The Giants selected lefty Ty Blach in the fifth round of the draft last year. He's gone 6-1 with a 1.89 ERA and an 11.00 strikeout-to-walk ratio this season for San Jose.

    Fellow lefty Edwin Escobar has also pitched well in the San Jose rotation. He's put up a 3.24 ERA with 51 strikeouts over 41.2 innings thus far.

    Adam Duvall has joined Panik and Susac as top hitting prospects in the Double-A Richmond lineup. The third baseman is hitting .309/.406/.600 in 16 games this season.

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