Stock Up, Stock Down for San Francisco Giants' Top 10 Prospects for Week 13

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Stock Up, Stock Down for San Francisco Giants' Top 10 Prospects for Week 13
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The San Francisco Giants are as happy as any team to be out of June, a month during which they saw their huge lead in the NL West evaporate thanks to a 4-15 run heading into July.

But the big league club hasn’t been the only part of the organization that has struggled. Whether injury or simply poor performance has been the case, many of the teams’ top prospects have disappointed through the halfway point of the minor league season.

It’s no secret that the Giants aren’t exactly loaded in the prospect department, but it’s particularly disconcerting to see those expected to succeed—the organization’s top young players—having such poor performances. Let’s take a look.

 

10. Clayton Blackburn

2014 Stats

8 GS, 2-5, 3.40 ERA, 9 BB, 32 K, 42.1 IP (Double-A Richmond)

2 GS, 0-1, 3.60 ERA, 0 BB, 9 K, 5 IP (Rookie)

 

Overview

Blackburn shares a first name with the game’s best pitcher, and while he’s not quite on Kershaw’s level, the 6’2” right-hander has still put together a pretty nice season at Double-A Richmond.

But like so many other top Giants prospects, Blackburn has been hurt for a great deal of the season. He put up a 3.40 ERA in Triple-A with a solid 32/9 strikeout-to-walk ratio prior to his injury, but he hasn’t played since May 19, with the exception of a few rehab appearances in rookie ball.

Overall, the prognosis has been positive for Blackburn, but he’ll have to find a way to maintain his strong performance after a long absence when he finally returns to Richmond, which could be coming soon.

 

Stock

Even

 

9. Joe Panik

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

2014 Stats

8 G, .174/.240/.217, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 0 R (Majors)

70 G, .321/.382/.447, 14 2B, 5 HR, 45 RBI, 50 R (Triple-A Fresno)

 

Overview

Struggles at the big league club necessitated Panik’s recent promotion, though the second baseman also helped his case by putting together a fantastic season in Triple-A.

Panik hasn’t found the same success that he achieved in the minors through the small sample size of 25 plate appearances with the big league club, but it’s not time to “Panik” just yet. (Har dee har.) The young prospect is still working through some early struggles, especially on the defensive side, but with Brandon Hicks’ even worse play and Marco Scutaro’s return nowhere in sight, Panik might be around to stay.

At the very least, seeing Panik put up such impressive numbers at Triple-A after a down season the year before has been one of the few successes in a system that has not had much to celebrate overall.

 

Stock

Even

 

8. Ty Blach

2014 Stats

15 GS, 6-4, 2.75 ERA, 20 BB, 50 K, 78.2 IP

 

Overview

If you’re looking for something to complain about with Blach this season, he hasn’t struck out very many batters, which doesn’t really bode well for his future at the higher levels.

But that’s about it. The left-hander out of Creighton has made a nice transition from High-A, posting a .275 ERA across 15 starts in Richmond, and he’s really on a roll right now. By allowing two runs on Sunday, Blach surrendered multiple runs for the first time since June 4, a span of four starts.

The consistency has been a huge plus. In fact, Blach has yet to allow more than three earned runs in any start this season, and he’s also surrendered just two unearned runs all year. He hasn’t been lights out by any means, but to have a dependable arm like that is a big advantage for any club. Blach even struck out nine batters in six innings in his second most recent start, which could be the start of a positive trend.

 

Stock

Up

 

7. Heath Hembree

Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

2014 Stats

33 G, 1-1, 15 SV, 3.58 ERA, 9 BB, 36 K, 32.2 IP

 

Overview

As I wrote last week, Hembree’s unimpressive ERA isn’t very indicative of his performance in 2014, as his total has been skewed by one very poor outing.

That doesn’t let him off the hook for some general inconsistency, but even with the struggles here and there, Hembree has good peripherals (36 strikeouts vs. nine walks), and he ranks second in the Pacific Coast League in saves. His strikeout rate has also been especially promising (9.9 per nine), which is right in line with the rates he has posted throughout his career.

With Sergio Romo faltering recently, perhaps the Giants’ supposed future closer will have a shot at the big league job before long. Remember, he nearly made it to the majors out of spring training this year...

 

Stock

Even

 

6. Christian Arroyo

2014 Stats

31 G, .203/.226/.271, 3 2B, 1 HR, 14 RBI, 10 R (Single-A Augusta)

9 G, .184/.244/.342, 1 2B, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 4 R (Low-A Salem-Keizer)

 

Overview

A thumb injury has limited Arroyo’s playing time this season, but that’s far from his only worry. When healthy, the Giants' 2013 first-round pick has struggled mightily, including a concerning .184 batting average in 38 at-bats in Low-A, where he’s played in nine games so far.

What looked like an early-season slump for Arroyo has extended into a prolonged slide that has to be seen as a legitimate concern for an organization that put so much stock in a player who wasn’t expected to be drafted so early in 2013.

But it’s still too early to panic. Arroyo has played in only 40 total games this year, and he was drafted in the first round for a reason. He also batted .326 last year, so we know what he can do. It’s just a matter of proving it.

 

Stock

Down

 

5. Mac Williamson

2014 Stats

23 G, .318/.420/.506, 7 2B, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 16 R

 

Overview (From Last Week)

Though Williamson’s stock is technically down thanks to his season-ending Tommy John surgery, his excellent performance prior to the injury makes it hard to penalize a hitter who has consistently put up good numbers for the Giants organization.

The good news is that Williamson will likely be ready for spring training because position players generally recover from Tommy John surgery faster than pitchers do. When Williamson does come back, however, he’ll need to get a move on. He turns 24 next season and still has yet to make it to Double-A.

 

Stock

N/A

 

4. Adalberto Mejia

2014 Stats

14 GS, 4-6, 5.73 ERA, 18 BB, 55 K, 66 IP

 

Overview

For the first time in his professional career, Mejia is having a down year, and it’s a major down year. With a 5.73 ERA as a result of 79 hits allowed (including eight homers) in 66 innings, it’s clear that the jump to Double-A has proven to be very difficult on the recently turned 21-year-old.

For most pitchers, their first struggle in the minors is the first struggle in their baseball lives, and the way in which they respond to that first bump in the road is very telling when it comes to their future success. It could say a lot about Mejia if he can respond well to the first signs of adversity in his minor league career.

Mejia also still has the stuff to be a solid pitcher, and he’s very young for the Double-A level. That being said, he’ll also need to rebound from this tough patch going forward.

 

Stock

Down

 

3. Chris Stratton

2014 Stats

14 GS, 5-7, 4.79 ERA, 30 BB, 80 K, 77 IP

 

Overview

It’s fair to say that 2014 hasn’t gone as Stratton hoped, but his season hasn’t been all bad. A major positive has been the strikeout total, aided by Stratton’s 10 strikeouts in five innings on Friday. He’s also putting together better starts as of late, with a pair of seven-inning appearances in June and his recent double-digit strikeout performance.

Still, control is an undeniable issue with Stratton, and he’s also allowed an alarming 12 home runs. That 4.79 ERA is also still much too high for the Giants’ liking, though if Stratton continues to pitch as he has been recently, he won’t have to worry about that anymore.

 

Stock

Even

 

2. Edwin Escobar

Gregory Bull/Associated Press

2014 Stats

17 GS, 3-7, 5.00 ERA, 29 BB, 88 K, 95.1 IP

 

Overview

Escobar continues the trend of top Giants pitching prospects with ugly stats this year, but unlike some others, he’s improving.

Back-to-back seven-inning outings have put Escobar on the right track, and he was recently named to the Futures Game to boot. With an ERA that’s on the verge of finally dipping below five and a couple of recent successful starts to speak of, Escobar could be on track for a rebound as he continues to learn how to pitch in the higher levels of the minors.

 

Stock

Up

 

1. Kyle Crick

Elsa/Getty Images

2014 Stats

13 GS, 5-3, 3.52 ERA, 38 BB, 60 K, 53.2 IP

 

Overview

Crick’s most recent start on June 25 is the epitome of his ability right now. He allowed only one hit in five innings with 10 strikeouts, but he also walked five batters. With a significant lack of command coupled with top-of-the-rotation stuff, it’s easy to see why Crick is the Giants’ best prospect. Similarly, it’s easy to see why he has a ways to go before he’ll be ready to make an impact at the big league level.

The good news is that Crick has been able to post a respectable 3.52 ERA this season, despite walking 6.4 batters per nine innings, which is a testament to his phenomenal repertoire of pitches. But the Giants are looking for Crick to improve his control, as that’s the one thing holding him back right now. As soon as he can learn to consistently command his pitches, Crick can become an instant impact player in the majors.

 

Stock

Even

 

There is a seemingly endless supply of organization prospect lists all over the Internet. For the sake of consistency, this list follows the rankings from Baseball America’s 2014 Top 10 Prospects Index.

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