San Francisco Giants: Stock Up, Stock Down for Top 10 Prospects for Week 4

Mark Reynolds@@markreynolds33Correspondent IIApril 28, 2013

San Francisco Giants: Stock Up, Stock Down for Top 10 Prospects for Week 4

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    The biggest change in this week's look at the San Francisco Giants' top 10 prospects is the sudden rise of Joe Panik.

    Panik got off to a slow start to the season at Double-A Richmond. However, with four multi-hit games last week, his batting average has shot all the way up to .304. With Mac Williamson continuing to struggle at San Jose and Gary Brown slumping for Fresno, Panik is looking like the top hitting prospect in the system.

    Let's dive in to the weekly stock watch to avoid thinking about the big league squad's current five-game losing streak.

    All statistics in this article are courtesy of and

No. 1: Clayton Blackburn

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    2013 Stats: 4 GP, 2-0 W-L, 1.64 ERA, 22 IP, 14 H, 4 R, 2 HR, 2 BB, 25 K

    Clayton Blackburn continues to rank as the top prospect in the system despite having his worst outing of the season last week. Even though it was his worst outing of the year, he still pitched pretty well. He allowed five hits, two runs, no walks and struck out four over five innings of work to earn a no-decision.

    Blackburn's 25-to-2 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 22 innings of work this season is exceptional. His outstanding command should allow to him breeze through the minor leagues in short order.

    Stock Watch: Up

No. 2: Kyle Crick

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    2013 Stats: 3 GS, 0-1 W-L, 0.93 ERA, 9.2 IP, 10 H, 6 R, 9 BB, 12 K

    Kyle Crick didn't pitch this week for San Jose due to an oblique injury that forced him to the disabled list. Before the injury, Crick was struggling to throw strikes. The good news is that the injury wasn't to his arm. Thus, hopefully the time on the disabled list will allow him to figure out how to get back into the strike zone consistently. 

    Stock Watch: Even 

No. 3: Chris Stratton

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    2013 Stats: 4 GS, 2-1 W-L, 2.38 ERA, 22.2 IP, 13 H, 6 R, 1 HR, 8 BB, 28 K

    Chris Stratton allowed only two hits over six innings in his latest start. However, one of those hits was a home run. He also walked three and allowed four runs over six innings of work.

    He continued to miss bats with 11 more strikeouts. After striking out only three in his first start, he's struck out 25 over his last 17.2 innings for Augusta.

    Stratton—the Giants' first-round pick last year—won't be long for Low-A ball if he keeps missing bats at that rate.

    Stock Watch: Up

No. 4: Joe Panik

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    2013 Stats: .304/.390/.413 (BA/OBP/SLG), .804 OPS, 6 2B, 2 3B, 0 HR

    Joe Panik has established himself as the current top hitting prospect in the system with a solid week at Double-A Richmond. After a three-hit game last Saturday, Panik went 11-for-25 with six walks during the past week. He's now hitting .304/.390/.413 on the year.

    He's walked 13 times against just nine strikeouts in 105 plate appearances so far this season. He's walked 99 times and struck out only 87 times over 1,011 plate appearances thus far in his minor league career.

    His contact skills and patience should make him the Giants' everyday second baseman—perhaps as soon as next year.

    Incumbent second baseman Marco Scutaro is hitting just .225 entering play on Sunday. Scutaro should pick it up soon given his track record. However, the Giants have Panik waiting in the wings just in case Scutaro doesn't catch fire.

    Stock Watch: Up

No. 5: Edwin Escobar

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    2013 Stats: 4 GS, 0-0 W-L, 1.89 ERA, 19 IP, 14 H, 4 R, 5 BB, 29 K

    Edwin Escobar continued to rack up the whiffs with nine more strikeouts over 4.1 innings in his latest outing. He walked a season-high of three, which is why he was knocked out in the fifth inning despite allowing only four hits and one run.

    Escobar isn't far behind Blackburn, Crick and Stratton among starters in the farm system. He's clearly the best lefty in the minors for the Giants right now.

    His 5.80 strikeout-to-walk ratio is second to only Blackburn (12.50) in the loaded San Jose rotation.

    Stock Watch: Up

No. 6: Martin Agosta

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    2013 Stats: 4 GS, 3-1 W-L, 1.71 ERA, 21 IP, 16 H, 6 R, 1 HR, 7 BB, 27 K

    Martin Agosta—the Giants' second-rounder last season—had another outstanding start for Augusta. He allowed five hits, one run and no walks while striking out nine over 6.1 innings of work.

    Four of the six runs that he's allowed this season came in one bad start where he was knocked out in the fourth. He currently ranks as the fifth best starter in a system absolutely stacked with starting pitching prospects. In another farm system, Agosta would probably rank much higher among starters.

    Stock Watch: Up

No. 7: Andrew Susac

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    2013 Stats: .274/.366/.468 (BA/OBP/SLG), .834 OPS, 6 2B, 2 HR

    Andrew Susac ranks behind only his teammate Joe Panik among position players in the system right now. He went 7-for-23 with his second home run and two more doubles last week.

    An .834 OPS for a catcher in a tough hitter's league is quite impressive. His 11.3 percent walk rate is also very solid. However, his 29 percent strikeout rate remains too high.

    He'll have to show better contact skills to establish himself as Buster Posey's backup catcher for the Giants in the near future.

    Stock Watch: Up

No. 8: Mac Williamson

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    2013 Stats: .205/.311/.346 (BA/OBP/SLG), .657 OPS, 3 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR

    Mac Williamson had another tough week at San Jose to drop down this list. On the bright side, he belted his second home run of the year on Sunday.

    Like Susac, Williamson is going to have to cut down on the strikeouts to continue to climb the minor league ladder. He's struck out 23 times in 78 at-bats so far this season. More contact will help Williamson boost his .205 batting average.

    Despite the slow start to the season, Williamson remains the hitting prospect with the most upside in the system.

    Stock Watch: Down

No. 9: Heath Hembree

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    2013 Stats: 11 GP, 1-0 W-L, 11 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 HR, 2 BB, 12 K, 7 Saves

    Heath Hembree was passed over for Jean Machi when Jeremy Affeldt hit the disabled list for the Giants. However, that wasn't a slight to Hembree. Machi has been outstanding for the Giants thus far—throwing 6.2 shutout innings.

    At 31 years old, Machi can't be considered a prospect. Thus, Hembree remains the top reliever in the minor leagues for the Giants. He's saved seven games in 11 appearances so far this year for Triple-A Fresno.

    The Giants bullpen is full right now. However, if another opportunity arises, Hembree should get the next call. Once he gets to the big leagues, he's likely to stay there for good.

    Stock Watch: Up

No. 10: Gary Brown

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    2013 Stats: .196/.267/.304 (BA/OBP/SLG), .572 OPS, 1/4 SB, 3 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR

    Gary Brown—the Giants' 2010 first-rounder and former top prospect—continued to struggle for Fresno. He went 4-for-25 with a walk last week as his average stayed below .200.

    His .196/.267/.304 batting line is a far cry from the .336/.407/.519 line he put up two years ago at San Jose. He's also gone just 1-for-4 in stolen base attempts after stealing 53 bases in 72 tries two years ago.

    The tools are still there for Brown, and he's only 24 years old. However, he's in the midst of his second straight underwhelming season.

    It's too soon to call him a bust. However, he needs to find the swing that allowed him to hit .336 two years ago in a hurry.

    Stock Watch: Down

Others to Note

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    Two pitchers who have spent some time on this list continued to struggle last week for Fresno.

    Michael Kickham is now 0-2 with a 7.13 ERA over four starts after giving up six runs in four innings on Sunday.

    Chris Heston gave up five runs in five innings of work in his last start. His ERA is now 6.58 on the year. If the Giants need a sixth starter this season, they're probably going to have to go outside the organization to find one.

    Reliever Dan Runzler has pitched well for Fresno this year. He's put up an 0.93 ERA and struck out 11 against three walks in 9.2 innings of work.

    Francisco Peguero saw his first big league action for the Giants last season, and he could get another shot this year. He's hitting .429 over 12 games thus far for Fresno.

    Roger Kieschnick could also warrant a look in left filed for the Giants this season. He's hitting .337/.356/.663 with four home runs so far this season for Fresno.

    Adalberto Mejia is another impressive young arm in the stacked San Jose rotation. The 19-year-old lefty is 2-0 with a 4.19 ERA in four starts this season.

    San Jose reliever Bryce Bandilla has struck out 29 of the 56 hitters he's faced this season in just 13.2 innings pitched.