Kyle Crick should be untouchable at the deadline.
The San Francisco Giants continue to struggle.
After losing two of three at home to the rival Los Angeles Dodgers, the Giants are now just 40-47. They've been outscored by 41 runs, and they're 6.5 games out of first place. Given how poorly the Giants have played over the last two months, it could be time to start thinking about the future in San Francisco.
The Giants' top prospect in the farm system is starting pitcher Kyle Crick. The Giants absolutely need to hold onto him at the trading deadline.
After Crick, there's a fairly steep drop-off into the second tier of talent. That group includes pitchers like Clayton Blackburn, Chris Stratton and Martin Agosta, as well as hitters such as Andrew Susac, Joe Panik and Gary Brown.
The Giants could conceivably deal from that tier at the deadline. However, any move they make needs to be with an eye towards 2014 because this season is looking more and more like a lost cause.
Let's take a look at how the Giants' top 10 prospects did last week.
2013 Stats at High-A San Jose: 6 GS, 1-1 W-L, 1.46 ERA, 14 BB, 40 K, 24.2 IP
Kyle Crick has been dominant since returning from an oblique injury. Over his last three starts since coming off the disabled list, Crick has struck out 28 hitters in 15 innings of work. He's allowed only 10 hits, five walks and three runs.
Crick has the best pure stuff of any starter in the system, including a power fastball in the 93-to-97 mph range. After struggling early in the season and then getting injured, he's returned to form and reclaimed the mantle as the crown jewel of the Giants' farm system.
Last Week: 1 GS, 6 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 10 K
2013 Stats at High-A San Jose: 15 GS, 5-4, 4.55 ERA, 25 BB, 93 K, 83 IP
Clayton Blackburn had another outstanding outing last week. He allowed just one earned run while striking out five over six innings.
His ERA on the year is much higher than his peripherals suggest it should be. He's struck out 93 against only 25 walks for a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 3.72. His ERA is more than a full run higher than his Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP). That discrepancy suggests that Blackburn has had some tough luck in what has otherwise been a very good season for the 20-year-old righty.
Last Week: 1 GS, 6 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K
2013 Stats at Low-A Augusta: 13 GS, 7-3, 3.81 ERA, 26 BB, 82 K, 78 IP
Chris Stratton had his start suspended by the rain on Sunday. He threw three shutout innings before the game was suspended.
Stratton has arguably the highest upside in the system behind Crick. He throws in the 91-to-93 mph range—touching 95. He's had an inconsistent year at Augusta, but his future remains very bright.
Last Week: 1 GS, 3 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K
Andrew Susac is the top hitter in the system.
2013 Stats at Double-A Richmond: .265/.373/.489, .862 OPS, 16 2B, 11 HR
Andrew Susac was out of action last week. He was placed on the disabled list with a finger issue, according to Taylor Marks of
Last Week: Did not play.
Joe Panik isn't driving the ball enough this season.
2013 Stats at Double-A Richmond: .255/.340/.353, .639 OPS, 17 2B, 3 3B, 3 HR
Joe Panik had another quiet week. He went just 6-for-27 (.222) with one extra-base hit.
Panik just hasn't consistently driven the ball this season. He's slugging only .353 over 329 at-bats. He's walking, avoiding strikeouts and getting on base. However, he's going to have to start hitting for more power to eventually become a starter at the big league level.
Last Week: 6-for-27, 2 BB, 2B
2013 Stats at Low-A Augusta: 14 GS, 7-3, 2.18 ERA, 32 BB, 92 K, 74.1 IP
Martin Agosta returned from the disabled list to throw 4.2 innings of one-run ball. He struck out three, walked three and allowed four hits.
Agosta was having an exceptional year before going down with a dead arm. It was a good sign that he recovered from the injury after missing less than two weeks of action.
If Agosta can stay healthy for the rest of the year, it wouldn't be a surprise to see him earn a promotion. He seemed to be on that track prior to getting hurt.
Last Week: 1 GS, 4.2 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 3 K
Heath Hembree has been throwing better recently.
2013 Stats at Triple-A Fresno (through Saturday): 34 GP, 1-2, 4.79 ERA, 11 BB, 43 K, 35.2 IP, 17 Saves
Heath Hembree has been throwing the ball much better lately. He's had five straight scoreless appearances over the last two weeks.
In his two outings prior to the recent hot spell, Hembree allowed eight runs in 1.1 innings. Those two disastrous performances are the culprit for his high ERA.
If Hembree had been pitching better a few weeks ago, perhaps the Giants would have turned to him for help in the bullpen. He'll have to continue his current stretch of pitching well to earn a promotion later in the year.
Last Week: 2 GP, 2 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K
Gary Brown has saved his season by swinging the bat well in recent weeks.
2013 Stats at Triple-A Fresno (through Saturday): .246/.305/.425, .730 OPS, 23 2B, 4 3B, 11 HR
Gary Brown has been much better over the past few weeks after a rough start to the season. He had another solid week, going 9-for-26 (.346).
Over his past 10 games, Brown has hit .295/.319/.500. The average and power numbers have been good, but he still needs to get on base more.
He's only 12-for-20 on stolen base attempts this season. That's another part of his game that he's going to have to improve before the Giants give him the call.
Last Week: 9-for-26, 2 2B, 3B
Michael Kickham as struggled for the Giants this year.
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, 0-3, 12.15 ERA, 5 BB, 15 K, 13.1 IP
Michael Kickham hasn't looked like a part of the Giants' future in the rotation so far this season. He put up a 4.81 ERA at Triple-A Fresno, and he's struggled in his brief cameo with the Giants as well.
He was blasted for nine hits and seven runs in just 2.2 innings against the Reds last week. He also allowed two runs over three innings in a relief appearance.
Kickham's future role is likely to be in the bullpen. He hasn't shown the command or control necessary to pitch in a big league rotation.
Kickham has excellent stuff, which gives him the potential to be a tough, late-inning lefty down the line.
Last Week: 2 GP, 5.2 IP, 13 H, 9 R, 1 BB, 7 K
Eric Surkamp has reemerged as a potential rotation option.
2013 Stats at Triple-A Fresno & High-A San Jose: 7 GS, 2-0, 2.73 ERA, 4 BB, 25 K, 26.1 IP
Eric Surkamp has reemerged as a potential long-term rotation option for the Giants. The 26-year-old lefty earned a call-up with the Giants at the end of 2011 after going 11-4 with a 1.94 ERA in the minors.
Surkamp struggled in his debut season with the Giants. He put up a 5.74 ERA over six starts before missing all of last season due to Tommy John surgery.
Surkamp is back in action and pitching well again. He's gone 2-0 with a 2.73 ERA between San Jose and Fresno. With Kickham showing no signs of being a long-term option in the rotation, Surkamp has a chance to earn consideration given the impending free agency of Barry Zito and Tim Lincecum.
Last Week: 2 GS, 11 IP, 12 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 8 K
Adam Duvall has gone cold at Double-A Richmond.
Here are some other notable prospects to keep an eye on:
Adam Duvall has gone cold after a hot start at Double-A Richmond. He's hitting just .184 over his last 10 games.
Edwin Escobar has a 3.19 ERA and 86 strikeouts against 15 walks in 67.2 innings for San Jose.
Ty Blach is 9-3 with a 2.61 ERA for San Jose. He has 81 strikeouts with only nine walks in 89.2 innings.
Joan Gregorio is 4-2 with a 3.78 ERA at Augusta.
The Giants' 2013 first-round pick, Christian Arroyo, has gone 4-for-20 (.200) over his first six games. Second-round pick Ryder Jones has gone 2-for-6 in two games.
The Giants signed one of the top international prospects in Gustavo Cabrera for $1.3 million last July. He's hitting only .207 through his first 26 professional games.
Outfielder Mac Williamson is hitting .264/.354/.462 with 14 home runs at San Jose.