San Francisco Giants: 5 Prospects Who Look to Be Taking a Step Back This Year
In 2013, the San Francisco Giants really did not bring up a solid minor league player to join their big league roster. The talk was all about how the Giants' best prospects were younger and we would see them making bigger strides in 2014 and 2015.
The most recent players to come through the Giants' farm system and make a major impact were Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford. They both arrived in San Francisco in 2011.
Since 2012, only Hector Sanchez, a reserve catcher, has been a consistent member of the team.
The excitement was high for many of the younger players who were further down in the Giants' farm system. However, the luster is fading for some of these players, as they are struggling and facing hurdles in 2014.
Let's take a closer look at those prospects who have seen the brightness of their star diminish this year.
Stats are courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com.
No. 5: Chris Dominguez, Third Base
The San Francisco Giants may be in the market for a third baseman after the 2014 season.
Pablo Sandoval is in the final year of his contract. He came into spring training in the best shape he's been in as a Giant. However, Sandoval has been mired in a season-long slump. He is currently hitting just .174, with two home runs and six RBI.
Before the start of the season, Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com reported that Sandoval turned down a three-year, $40 million offer. Now, it appears as though he is pressing, and the longer this has persisted, the worse his struggles have become.
Any team would be concerned about offering Sandoval a huge, long-term contract. The worry is that once Sandoval signs the deal, he will revert back to his former girth.
If Sandoval and the Giants ultimately part ways, the hope was that Chris Dominguez would be ready to step in as the starting third baseman.
Dominguez is now 27 years of age and is playing his third season in Fresno, the Giants' Triple-A affiliate. This is a golden opportunity for Dominguez to excel and thrust himself into the Giants' future plans.
Unfortunately, Dominguez is not playing up to the level necessary to make a successful transition from Fresno to San Francisco. In 100 at-bats, Dominguez is hitting a respectable .280.
However, the rest of Dominguez's numbers are cause for concern. He has just two home runs and 18 RBI. Dominguez's on-base percentage is .292 and his on-base plus slugging is a poor .692. He has struck out 25 times, with only three walks.
Unless Dominguez picks it up, Giants' GM Brian Sabean will be forced to look outside the organization to fill the void, if Sandoval moves on.
No. 4: Mac Williamson, Right Field
Mac Williamson had an outstanding season in 2013, playing for San Jose, the Giants' High-A affiliate. He displayed excellent power, with 25 home runs and 89 RBI. Williamson had an OBP of .375 and an OPS of .879.
The Giants have been searching for a young, power hitting outfielder for years, and the hope was that Williamson could be that player.
This year, In his first 23 games in San Jose, Williamson was off to a good start, hitting .318 with an OBP of .410 and OPS of .926. Williamson had not been able to play in the field this year due to a sore arm.
Williamson was diagnosed with a torn elbow ligament and underwent Tommy John surgery. He will be lost for the season.
If Williamson does not recover well from the surgery, he could be ticketed to the American League as a DH. The best case for the Giants is that Williamson has a complete recovery and is able to return to the outfield.
No. 3: Ehire Adrianza, Infielder
Ehire Adrianza has proven that he belongs in the minor leagues. The only thing keeping him in the majors is that he is out of minor league options, and the Giants do not want to risk losing him to a waiver claim.
In 30 at-bats, Adrianza has just six hits and is batting only .200. However, two or three of those hits were bloops that were hit very poorly and just dropped in. A more telling statistic is that Adrianza's OBP is just .219, and his OPS is a meager .485.
In his last game, a tight 2-1 loss to the Pirates, Adrianza collected one of his rare hits but was promptly picked off first base. This was a tremendously poor play, as the pitcher was at the plate and was going to bunt to try and sacrifice him to second base.
There was no need for Adrianza to take such a big lead, as he wasn't going to be stealing in that situation. A bad, rookie mistake.
Then, with the score tied 1-1 in the ninth inning, Starling Marte blasted a ball high off the wall in right field. The ricochet bounded past Hunter Pence, who retrieved it and threw to Adrianza.
Marte was in easily with a triple. It was at this moment that Adrianza made another bad mistake. He had no chance to get Marte at third, but threw the ball anyway. The throw was wild and got by Pablo Sandoval.
Marte jumped to his feet and raced home to narrowly beat Sandoval's throw to catcher Buster Posey. In fact, the umpire originally called Marte out at the plate, but a replay review confirmed that Marte was safe. The call was overturned and the Pirates won.
With two outs and no chance to get the runner, Adrianza should not have made the throw. These are two boneheaded mistakes that cannot happen at the big league level.
Adrianza's career batting average is only .248. In 2013, he hit only .266. Manager Bruce Bochy rarely uses Adrianza, and when he does it is typically as a pinch runner, defensive replacement or pinch hitter in a non-critical situation.
At this point, Adrianza is wasting a valuable roster spot. With only five reserve position players, Adrianza's presence is not adding value to the team. In reality, the fact that Bochy has little confidence in him actually handcuffs the Giants manager.
The Giants need to take the risk that they could lose Adrianza, because he is not ready to be in the major leagues. If another team claims him before the Giants can send him to Fresno, so be it.
No. 2: Edwin Escobar, Pitcher
Edwin Escobar impressed Bochy and pitching coach Dave Righetti this spring. He threw the ball well and looked like the young starting pitcher closest to being ready for the majors.
However, he has not pitched well in Fresno. In 35 innings, Escobar has allowed 41 hits and 11 walks while striking out 32. His ERA is 4.89, with a WHIP of 1.49. Opposing batters are hitting .291 off Escobar.
If the Giants need a starting pitcher today, beyond long reliever Yusmeiro Petit, the choice would be up in the air. It was originally thought to be Escobar, but his performance does not merit a promotion.
Escobar is still only 22, so he has time to turn himself around. However, once thought to be the next in the line of the Giants' good, young starting pitchers to make the majors, the luster has faded, at least for the time being.
No. 1: Kyle Crick, Pitcher
In December 2013, Baseball America ranked Kyle Crick as the Giants' top prospect. He was the Giants' top draft choice in the 2011 amateur draft.
Crick has a fastball in the mid 90s and a very effective curveball. He needs to work on his command and refine his changeup in order to make a successful jump to the majors.
Crick is only 21 and is currently pitching in Richmond, the Giants' Double-A affiliate.
Crick is off to a slow start, having thrown just 15.2 innings. He has allowed 15 hits and an alarming 18 walks, while striking out 20. He has electric stuff but needs to harness that power and throw strikes consistently.
The walks balloon Crick's WHIP to 2.106, while his ERA is 4.60. The lack of command that Crick has displayed is a concern and something that he must correct as soon as possible.
The Giants had hoped that Crick would be able to make the jump to the majors by late 2014 or in 2015. However, based on his performance this season, that optimistic outlook has been tempered.
At this point, Crick needs to show much more consistent command if he is to be considered for a promotion.