Kyle Crick is the top prospect in the Giants system.
The San Francisco Giants snapped a six-game losing streak on Sunday to improve to just 39-42 entering July at the halfway point of the season.
There hasn't been much good news with the big league squad recently. However, Kyle Crick has reemerged as the top prospect in the Giants' farm system since his return from the disabled list. Crick is one arm the Giants should try hard to hold onto at the trading deadline.
With the season at its midway point, we now have a better idea of where the top 10 prospects stand in the Giants' system. I've used the prospect rankings of Baseball America and FanGraphs to help rank the top prospects and then used prospects' season statistical performances to this point to make some slight adjustments to those preseason rankings.
Let's take a look at how the Giants' top 10 prospects did last week.
2013 Stats at High-A San Jose: 5 GS, 0-1 W-L, 0.48 ERA, 13 BB, 30 K, 18.2 IP
Kyle Crick entered the season as the top prospect in the Giants' system, but an oblique injury forced him to miss two months of action.
Since his return, he has shown why he's the top arm the Giants have in the minor leagues. He's struck out 18 in just nine innings of work over his last two starts.
Crick has the stuff to pitch at the top of a big league rotation, but he needs to refine his control to reach that ceiling. He's walked four in nine innings since coming back from the disabled list and has walked 13 in just 18.2 innings on the season.
Once Crick learns how to attack the strike zone consistently with his outstanding stuff, he's going to rocket through the minor leagues.
Last Week: 1 GS, 5 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 8 K
2013 Stats at High-A San Jose: 14 GS, 4-4, 4.79 ERA, 23 BB, 88 K, 77 IP
Clayton Blackburn bounced back from a rough start with a nice showing last week. He struck out nine over 7.2 innings of work while allowing five hits, four walks and four runs.
Blackburn doesn't have the same premium stuff as Kyle Crick, but he has much better control at this point. Blackburn has walked only 44 in 241.2 career minor league innings for a walk ratio of 1.6 per nine innings.
His control is what will get him to the big leagues, as his command within the strike zone will ultimately determine his future role. He just doesn't have the stuff to get away with location mistakes in the zone.
Last Week: 1 GS, 7.2 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 4 BB, 9 K
It's been a mixed bag for Stratton in 2013.
2013 Stats at Low-A Augusta: 13 GS, 7-3, 3.81 ERA, 26 BB, 82 K, 78 IP
The Giants used their first-round pick last season on Chris Stratton last season, who throws in the 91-93 mph range—touching 95—with a slider, changeup and curveball.
Given Stratton's pedigree, his results at Low-A Augusta have been puzzling. He's had some very good starts, but his overall numbers are not very dominant given the level of competition that he's facing.
Stratton was hit hard again on Sunday, June 30, allowing 11 hits and six runs over 6.1 innings to raise his ERA to 3.81. That was the second time in four starts that he allowed six runs.
Stratton has the stuff to mow through the lower levels of the minor leagues, but he hasn't figured out how to get the results to match his talent level yet.
Last Week: 1 GS, 6.1 IP, 11 H, 6 ER, 3 BB, 4 K
Andrew Susac has emerged as the top hitting prospect in the system.
2013 Stats at Double-A Richmond: .265/.373/.489, .862 OPS, 16 2B, 11 HR
Andrew Susac struggled through his first minor league season in 2012 after the Giants used their second-round pick on him during the 2011 draft.
Even though his numbers weren't strong last year, he entered this season as one of the Giants' top prospects and his offensive upside remained high. He has made good on his offensive potential this season by hitting .265/.373/.489 with 27 extra-base hits at the Double-A level.
Susac is the only position player in the system who currently projects to be an everyday player in the big leagues. Once he's ready for the show, the Giants will be able to give Buster Posey more days off behind the plate.
Last Week: 2-for-14, 2 HR, 2 BB
Joe Panik has had an up and down year at Double-A.
2013 Stats at Double-A Richmond: .258/.346/.361, .707 OPS, 16 2B, 3 3B, 3 HR
Joe Panik has been swinging the bat better after a dreadful slump sent his numbers into a freefall. He's hitting .300/.378/.475 over his last 10 games.
Panik's ultimate ceiling remains unclear. While his .258 batting average and .361 slugging percentage make him look like a future utility player, his ability to make contact and get on base make him look like a potential starter.
Panik will have the rest of this season, and possibly another year in the minors next year, to show the Giants what his future role will be.
Last Week: 8-for-28, 2 2B, 2 BB, HR
2013 Stats at Low-A Augusta: 13 GS, 7-2, 2.20 ERA, 29 BB, 89 K, 69.2 IP
Prior to the injury, Agosta was dominating the South Atlantic League with 89 strikeouts through 69.2 innings. If the injury proves to be minor, Agosta will have a chance to move up the rankings during the second half of the season.
Heath Hembree bounced back wtih a solid week.
2013 Stats at Triple-A Fresno: 32 GP, 1-2, 5.08 ERA, 11 BB, 39 K, 33.2 IP, 16 Saves
Heath Hembree bounced back from a disastrous rough spell to post solid results last week. He threw three shutout innings with four strikeouts to earn two more saves.
Even with a very good week, Hembree still has a 5.08 ERA this season. Giants general manager Brian Sabean recently told Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle that the team doesn't have plans to call up Hembree or Gary Brown.
That’s up to their performance. They’re not there yet...The consistency is not there for either one of them. Brown really needs to pick it up against right-handed pitching and Hembree has been inconsistent in the strike zone and doesn’t have a secondary pitch.
The back of the Giants' farm system is currently in a state of flux. Michael Kickham has struggled at Triple-A and through two starts with the Giants while Brown and Hembree clearly aren't ready for the big leagues.
The Giants need more support from the farm system, but it's not clear that they'll get it in 2013.
Last Week: 3 GP, 3 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K
Gary Brown needs to start putting the ball in play more.
2013 Stats at Triple-A Fresno: .238/.301/.419, .720 OPS, 21 2B, 3 3B, 11 HR
Gary Brown cooled off last week after setting the Pacific Coast League on fire during the two weeks prior. He went just 4-for-24 while striking out eight times to raise his strikeout total to 85 on the season.
Brown's inability to make contact is the main reason why he's hitting just .238. He's also just 11-for-18 in stolen base attempts. He's clearly not getting the most out of his above-average speed.
Brown is hitting for power, but it's been at the expense of his batting average and on-base percentage. If he's going to be the leadoff man of the future for the Giants, he's going to have to get back to making contact, getting on base and stealing bases.
Last Week: 4-for-24, 3B, HR
Michael Kickham made his second career start for the Giants last week.
2013 Stats at Triple-A Fresno: 14 GS, 3-5, 4.81 ERA, 33 BB, 69 K, 78.2 IP
2013 Stats with San Francisco: 2 GS, 0-2, 10.57 ERA, 4 BB, 8 K, 7.2 IP
Michael Kickham's second start with the Giants went better than his first. Through the first five innings against the Dodgers, Kickham allowed only two runs, but Bruce Bochy left him in for the sixth inning where Kickham ran into problems.
He finished having allowed eight hits and six runs over 5.1 innings . The good news was that after walking four in his debut, he didn't walk a single batter against the Dodgers.
Kickham's control has been his biggest problem during his minor league career. He'll get another start with the Giants next week to prove that he can continue to throw strikes in the big leagues.
Last Week: 1 GS, 5.1 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 0 BB, 5 K
Adam Duvall has cooled off after a hot start to the season.
2013 Stats at Double-A Richmond: .263/.325/.473, .798 OPS, 12 2B, 3 3B, 7 HR
Adam Duvall has gone cold at the plate after a hot start to the season. His OPS dipped below .800 last week and he's hitting just .262/.311/.381 over his last 10 games.
Duvall has some of the best power in the system. He hit 52 home runs over the last two seasons and looked like he might be the third baseman of the future for the Giants after following up that power display with a solid start at the challenging Double-A level.
His recent struggles have put his future more in doubt, however.
Last Week: 7-for-29, 2 BB, 2B
Eric Surkamp could help the Giants in 2013.
Here are some other notable prospects to keep an eye on:
Eric Surkamp has put up a 2.93 ERA over five rehabilitation starts with San Jose. He could help the Giants in the rotation once he's fully recovered from Tommy John surgery.
Edwin Escobar has a 3.50 ERA and 78 strikeouts in 61.2 innings for San Jose.
Ty Blach is 8-3 with a 2.72 ERA for San Jose. He has 73 strikeouts with only eight walks in 82.2 innings.
Joan Gregorio is 4-1 with a 3.73 ERA at Augusta. He's struck out 48 while walking only eight in 41 innings.
The Giants' 2013 first-round pick, Christian Arroyo went 1-for-3 in his professional debut. Second-round pick Ryder Jones went 2-for-3.
The Giants signed one of the top international prospects in Gustavo Cabrera for $1.3 million last July, but he's hitting only .200 through his first 24 professional games.
Catcher Johnny Monell is hitting .311/.374/.587 with 14 home runs at Triple-A Fresno.