Kyle Crick is the top prospect in a system loaded with arms.
The San Francisco Giants' farm system is heavy on starting pitching talent, but light on the hitting side. After top prospect Kyle Crick, there's a noticeable drop-off in talent.
Crick was the lone prospect to make Baseball America's midseason top-50 prospect list for the Giants. He currently ranks as the 49th-best prospect in the game.
In the past, the Giants have had more clear distinctions among their top prospects, particularly when they had elite guys like Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, Madison Bumgarner, Buster Posey and Brandon Belt.
This year, it's more difficult to distinguish between the players ranked behind Crick. That's why I've continued to note other prospects of interest beyond the top 10. The 15th-ranked player in this system probably has a similar chance of making it as the second-best.
Let's take a look at how the top Giants' prospects did during the season's 15th week.
Crick is one of the game's best prospects.
2013 Stats at High-A San Jose: 7 GS, 1-1 W-L, 1.21 ERA, 19 BB, 44 K, 29.2 IP
Kyle Crick continued to dominate the Cal League last week. Since returning from an oblique injury, Crick has struck out 32 hitters in 20 innings spanning four starts. He's allowed only three runs during that stretch.
Crick has the best pure stuff of any starter in the system, including a power fastball in the 93-to-97 mph range. The only thing holding him back from reaching his potential as a top-of-the-rotation starter is a lack of control.
Crick has walked 19 in 29.2 innings this season after walking 67 over 111.1 innings last year. He walked five in his start last week, showing that control remains a problem. He also walked two of the three hitters he faced during the Futures Game on Sunday.
He's going to have to become more efficient with his control to reach his ceiling.
Last Week: 1 GS, 5 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 5 BB, 4 K
2013 Stats at High-A San Jose: 16 GS, 5-4, 4.35 ERA, 26 BB, 99 K, 89 IP
Four starts ago, Clayton Blackburn was pummeled for eight runs in 3.2 innings. He's pitched much better over his last three starts since then.
Over his last 19.2 innings, Blackburn has allowed only six earned runs while striking out 20. He's struck out 99 against just 26 walks over 89 innings this year.
Blackburn doesn't have the pure stuff that Crick possesses, but his command and control are more advanced. He doesn't profile as a No.1 or No. 2 starter, but he figures to pitch in the middle of a big league rotation in the near future.
Last Week: 1 GS, 6 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K
2013 Stats at Low-A Augusta: 14 GS, 7-3, 3.96 ERA, 28 BB, 88 K, 84 IP
Chris Stratton has better stuff than Blackburn, but he hasn't gotten the same results that Blackburn got last year in the South Atlantic League despite being 22 years old.
Blackburn put up a 2.54 ERA and a 7.94 strikeout-to-walk ratio at the age of 19 for Augusta last year. Stratton, the Giants' first-round pick last year, has posted a 3.96 ERA and a 3.14 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Stratton might have more potential, but his results have been too inconsistent to justify ranking him higher than Blackburn. He allowed four runs and eight hits—including a home run—over six innings last week. He's now allowed 10 runs over his last 12.1 innings of work.
The Giants need Stratton to finish the season on a higher note than that. He has the tools, but he hasn't figured out how to utilize them yet.
Last Week: 1 GS, 6 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 6 K
Andrew Susac was having a good year before getting hurt.
2013 Stats at Double-A Richmond: .265/.373/.489, .862 OPS, 16 2B, 11 HR
Andrew Susac remained out of action last week with a finger issue, though he's expected back soon according to John O'Connor of the .
Last Week: Did not play.
Joe Panik has struggled at the Double-A level.
2013 Stats at Double-A Richmond (through Saturday): .248/.332/.346, .677 OPS, 19 2B, 3 3B, 3 HR
Joe Panik continues to struggle for Double-A Richmond. He went just 2-for-22 with a walk last week to drop his average below .250.
Panik is hitting .135/.179/.216 over his last 10 games to drop his seasonal slash line to .248/.332/.346. Panik was looking like the Giants' second baseman of the future before going cold over the past several weeks. He's hitting more like a future utility infielder right now, unfortunately.
Last Week: 2-for-22, 2 2B, BB
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 on July 5. He didn't pitch last week, however, which may have been due to a series of rain-outs for Augusta.
Agosta, the Giants' second-round pick last year, has had a stellar first full season in the minor leagues. He's struck out 94 in 74.1 innings while posting a 2.18 ERA. He's been the best pitcher in a stacked rotation that includes Stratton and other notable prospects such as Joan Gregorio and Kendry Flores.
The Giants are loaded with pitching prospects, and Agosta is one of the top arms in the system.
Last Week: Did not pitch.
Heath Hembree has been throwing better for Triple-A Fresno.
2013 Stats at Triple-A Fresno: 37 GP, 1-2, 4.42 ERA, 12 BB, 47 K, 38.2 IP, 19 Saves
Heath Hembree continued to pitch well at Triple-A Fresno last week. He's now delivered eight straight scoreless appearances.
Over his last eight innings, he's struck out 12 against five hits and two walks. Hembree's ERA remains bloated due to the eight runs he allowed over two outings preceding his recent hot streak.
He has the potential to be a late-inning relief option for the Giants in the near future. He could get a look with the big league club later this season if he continues to pitch well.
Last Week: 3 GP, 3 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K
Gary Brown has been inconsistent this season.
2013 Stats at Triple-A Fresno: .242/.301/.416, .716 OPS, 24 2B, 5 3B, 11 HR
Gary Brown's up-and-down year at Triple-A Fresno is headed in the wrong direction again. He's hitting just .205/.256/.308 over his last 10 games after a 5-for-25 performance last week.
Brown has struck out 94 times against only 24 walks this season. His inability to make consistent contact is why his batting average has dropped from .336 two years ago at High-A San Jose to .242 this season.
Brown is starting to look more and more like a future fourth outfielder. He'll need a strong finish to the season to change that perception.
Last Week: 5-for-25, 2B, 3B, 2 BB
Michael Kickham has struggled with the Giants.
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: 5 GP, 0-3, 10.61 ERA, 6 BB, 21 K, 18.2 IP
The Giants called on Michael Kickham again last week. Kickham relieved Matt Cain after he failed to get out of the first inning during his start against the Mets. Kickham allowed five hits, three walks, a home run and four runs over 5.1 innings of work.
The long ball has plagued him over his first five appearances in the big leagues. He's allowed six home runs in 18.2 innings of work.
Kickham has shown flashes of brilliance, but his 10.61 ERA is proof that he needs more time in the minors. The Giants sent him back down after his last appearance to work out the kinks. He hasn't looked like a future starter to this point, but he certainly has the stuff to excel as a reliever.
Last Week: 1 GP, 5.1 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 6 K
Eric Surkamp is a potential rotation option going forward.
2013 Stats at Triple-A Fresno & High-A San Jose: 8 GS, 2-0, 2.87 ERA, 10 BB, 27 K, 31.1 IP
Eric Surkamp is a potential long-term rotation option for the Giants, especially with Tim Lincecum and Barry Zito slated for free agency this winter.
The 25-year-old lefty missed all of last season due to Tommy John surgery. He's posted a 2.87 ERA over eight starts during his rehabilitation from the elbow injury.
Surkamp struggled with his control last week. He walked six over five innings, but allowed only three hits and two runs. He also struggled with his control during his six-start cameo with the Giants at the end of the 2011 season.
Surkamp was dominant at the Double-A level two years ago. If he can get back to where he was before the injury, he has a chance to help the Giants at the back of the rotation in the near future.
Last Week: 1 GS, 5 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 6 BB, 2 K
Here are some other notable prospects to keep an eye on:
Mac Williamson is hitting .271/.359/.481 with 17 home runs and 18 doubles at San Jose. He's one of the top hitters in the system.
Edwin Escobar posted a 2.89 ERA over 16 games with San Jose to earn a promotion to Double-A. Escobar allowed four runs on six hits over four innings in his first start for Richmond last week.
Ty Blach is 10-3 with a 2.63 ERA for San Jose. He has 91 strikeouts against only nine walks in 95.2 innings. He struck out 10 over six innings last week.
Joan Gregorio is 5-2 with a 3.52 ERA at Augusta. He pitched six innings of one-run ball last week while striking out nine.
Gregorio's teammate Kendry Flores is 6-6 with a 2.97 ERA. He allowed one unearned run over seven strong innings in his last start.
The Giants' 2013 first-round pick, Christian Arroyo, is hitting .245 over his first 12 games.
Second-round pick Ryder Jones is hitting .379 through his first eight games.
Adam Duvall's slash line has fallen all the way down to .246/.313/.439 as he continues to struggle at Double-A Richmond.