San Francisco Giants

First-Quarter Stock Up, Stock Down for San Francisco Giants' Top 10 Prospects

Jason MartinezContributor IMay 12, 2014

First-Quarter Stock Up, Stock Down for San Francisco Giants' Top 10 Prospects

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    Crick still has a lock on the top spot despite a shaky start to the season.
    Crick still has a lock on the top spot despite a shaky start to the season.Gregory Bull/Associated Press

    With a farm system that hasn't been well-regarded in years, the San Francisco Giants were hopeful that things would begin to head in a positive direction in 2014. But with top prospect Kyle Crick having walked more than a batter per inning thus far in his Double-A debut and top-hitting prospect Mac Williamson undergoing season-ending Tommy John surgery, it's hard to be too optimistic.

    And yet, there have been some positive developments over the first quarter of the minor league season.

    While the number of potential impact major leaguers stands at zero unless Crick can turn things around, they have a deep core of solid pitching prospects and a handful of hitters who could help out the big league team in some capacity in the near future.

    It's also helpful that the big league team is very good—they're currently 24-14 with a two-game lead in the NL West—because there is not a sense of urgency to rush any prospect to the majors. They can continue to develop at their own pace and will only advance to the next level when they've earned that privilege. 

    Here's a look at the team's top 10 prospects and how each player has fared through the first six weeks of the 2014 MLB season.

10. Gary Brown, OF (Triple-A Fresno)

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    Last Week's Stats

    4-for-21, 2B, 1 R, 7 K, SB 

    Along with Juan Perez's struggles as the team's fifth outfielder (1-for-23, 0 BB, 7 K), the injury to Brandon Belt and Michael Morse's expected move from left field to regular time at first base could be enough to get Brown to the majors for the first time. 

    The 25-year-old is in a bit of a rut in May (11-for-41, BB, 8 K), but he's done enough overall to lock down a spot in the rankings. Two hits and a stolen base Sunday should be enough to get him a big league promotion to the first-place Giants in the next few days.

     

    2014 Stats

    .276 BA, 2 HR, 6 2B, 3 3B, 14 BB, 30 K, 6 SB in 37 games


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9. Andrew Susac, C (Triple-A Fresno)

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    Last Week's Stats

    6-for-11, 2 HR, 2 2B, 5 RBI, BB 

    Hector Sanchez's four-hit game last Monday might've come just in time. Coming into that game, the Giants' backup catcher was hitting just .179 with one walk and 17 strikeouts. If his struggles had continued through the week, Susac's three-game performance since coming off the disabled list Thursday could've possibly had him on the verge of replacing Sanchez.

    The 24-year-old Susac had solid numbers in April (.845 OPS, 2 HR, 9 RBI) before a concussion knocked him out of action for more than two weeks. He didn't miss a beat upon returning, with six hits, including two homers and two doubles, in 11 at-bats. 

    With Brandon Belt out six weeks with a fractured thumb and Buster Posey one option to play first base, Sanchez will have to produce with more regular playing time. If not, Susac could get a shot.

     

    2014 Stats

    .333 BA, 4 HR, 5 2B, 8 BB, 12 K in 19 games


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8. Ty Blach, SP (Double-A Richmond)

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    Last Week's Stats

    7 IP, 3 ER, 6 H, 0 BB, 3 K in one start

    With only 13 strikeouts in 36 innings, Blach won't be mistaken for anything more than a future No. 5 starter or middle reliever in the majors. But it's hard to ignore his ability to pitch deep into games and keep his opponents from scoring many runs.

    After posting a 2.90 ERA with only 18 walks and 117 strikeouts in his first pro season with High-A San Jose in 2013, the former fifth-round pick out of Creighton University is now proving that he has what it takes to succeed in the upper minors. 

     

    2014 Stats

    2.23 ERA, 36.1 IP, 30 H, 6 BB, 13 K in seven starts


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7. Mac Williamson, OF (High-A San Jose)

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    Last Week's Stats

    DNP

    It could be said that Williamson's season was over before it even started.

    While he was able to play in 23 games, the 23-year-old was only biding his time in High-A (where he could serve as the designated hitter in the Cal League) until his shoulder was back at full strength and he could play in the outfield once again, this time in Double-A Richmond. 

    He never made it to that point, though. His season ended in late April when it was revealed that he would need to undergo Tommy John surgery. 

    While a full recovery is expected, it's hard to think that Williamson will avoid falling off the radar with his status for the start of the 2015 season up in the air. 

     

    2014 Stats

    .318 BA, 3 HR, 7 2B, 11 RBI, 13 BB, 14 K, 6 SB in 23 games


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6. Chris Stratton, SP (High-a San Jose)

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    Last Week's Stats

    4 IP, 4 ER, 6 H, 3 BB, 5 K in one start

    The former first-round pick has had an up-and-down season as he tries to survive the hitter-friendly California League.

    Stratton's latest start was one of his worst as he allowed a season-high four earned runs for the third time this season and lasted a season-low four innings for the second time. The 23-year-old also allowed a homer for the sixth time in seven starts.

     

    2014 Stats

    5.30 ERA, 35.2 IP, 37 H, 14 BB, 34 K in seven starts


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5. Kendry Flores, SP (High-A San Jose)

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    Last Week's Stats

    6.2 IP, 4 ER, 8 H, 3 BB, 6 K in one start

    One bad inning ruined an otherwise strong start for Flores on Saturday, who has emerged as the staff ace for the San Jose Giants. Take out a third inning in which he allowed a three-run homer, and the 22-year-old right-hander had five shutout innings until he ran out of gas in the seventh, when he allowed a run on three more hits.

    Despite a few rough outings, Flores is faring much better in the Cal League than Chris Stratton, the 20th overall pick in the 2012 draft. Flores' walk-to-strikeout ratio isn't anywhere near as impressive as it was in Low-A in 2013 (17 BB, 137 K), but it's still solid and he could find himself in Double-A late in the season if he continues to pitch well.  

     

    2014 Stats

    4.26 ERA, 38 IP, 36 H, 12 BB, 37 K in seven starts


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4. Adalberto Mejia, SP (Double-A Richmond)

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    Last Week's Stats

    6 IP, 3 ER, 8 H, BB, 6 K in one start

    Mejia's ERA may be over 5.00, but he's really only had one bad outing.

    Aside from his May 2 start when Trenton got to him for five earned runs and six hits in 5.1 innings, the 20-year-old lefty has a 4.50 ERA with four walks and 24 strikeouts in 24 innings. He's also completed six innings with one walk and six strikeouts in three of those starts.  

     

    2014 Stats

    5.22 ERA, 29.1 IP, 32 H, 6 BB, 28 K in six starts


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3. Edwin Escobar, SP (Triple-A Fresno)

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    Last Week's Stats

    5 IP, 3 ER, 7 H, 2 BB, 2 K in one start

    Considering the hitter-friendly atmosphere, Escobar's results in his first Triple-A season are solid. The 22-year-old lefty has allowed three earned runs or less in five of his seven starts and has a 2.82 ERA over his last 22.1 innings. 

    After Yusmeiro Petit was knocked around in his last spot start (4.1 IP, 8 ER, 9 H), the Giants could give stronger consideration to Escobar next time they're in need of a starter.

     

    2014 Stats

    4.89 ERA, 35 IP, 41 H, 11 BB, 32 K in seven starts


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2. Clayton Blackburn, SP (Double-A Richmond)

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    Last Week's Stats

    5.1 IP, 4 ER, 6 H, 0 BB, 10 K in one start

    For the most part, Blackburn has thrown strikes, kept the ball in play and let his defense go to work behind him. The 21-year-old's approach had been highly effective through his first five starts as he allowed only six earned runs in 27 innings with six walks and 17 strikeouts. 

    In Wednesday's start at Harrisburg, though, the right-hander reminded us that he's also capable of missing bats as he had done the past two seasons in Low-A (9.8 K/9) and High-A (9.3 K/9), respectively.

    While the final result wasn't great, he struck out ten hitters overall without a walk. More impressively, he had been throwing a no-hitter through five innings, recording all ten strikeouts, before allowing six singles in the sixth inning before being removed. 

     

    2014 Stats

    2.78 ERA, 32.1 IP, 35 H, 6 BB, 27 K in six starts


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1. Kyle Crick, SP (Double-A Richmond)

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    Last Week's Stats

    3 IP, ER, 3 H, BB, 3 K in one start

    Crick has had serious control issues in four consecutive starts (16 BB in 10.2 innings), but he showed progress during Friday's outing against Erie. 

    The 21-year-old pitched three shutout innings without any free passes before allowing a leadoff walk in the fourth. After allowing a single to the next batter, he was removed after just 56 pitches. 

    While the Giants will eventually need to unleash their top pitching prospect and allow him to pitch deeper into games, they were smart to remove him when they did. At this point, the right-hander is in need of a confidence boost, and one bad inning could have taken the focus away from how effective he was early on.

     

    2014 Stats

    4.34 ERA, 18.2 IP, 18 H, 19 BB, 23 K in six starts


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