San Francisco Giants Prospects: B/R's Top 15 Breakdown, Post 2013 Draft

Dan MoriCorrespondent IJune 8, 2013

San Francisco Giants Prospects: B/R's Top 15 Breakdown, Post 2013 Draft

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    The San Francisco Giants have produced several homegrown stars in the past few years. These players have been instrumental in helping the Giants win two of the past three World Series titles.

    Position players who have come up through the Giants' farm system include Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval, Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt.

    In addition, pitchers Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum and Sergio Romo all spent their formative years in baseball with the Giants' organization.

    The ability to develop and promote players within your organization brings a certain inherent amount of pride. Each player who comes up through the organization truly feels like a Giant. Most importantly, player development is critical for financial stability.

    The free-agent market is extremely expensive, whereas with young talent developed within the Giants' organization, the club maintains much more salary control over that player. It takes several years before a player is able to hit the open market as a free agent.

    The Giants' minor league system needs to improve quickly, as nobody seems ready to move forward into the big leagues. The Giants are waiting on several top prospects to mature and gain experience.

    The 2013 First-Year Player Draft is an opportunity for teams to fortify their minor league systems. With the top picks already made in this draft, let's take a closer look at the Giants' top prospects.

No. 15: Ryder Jones: 3rd Base

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    Ryder Jones is a left-handed hitting third baseman out of Watauga High School in Boone, North Carolina. The Giants made him their Round 2 draft selection, No. 64 overall in the 2013 amateur draft.

    Jones was a bit of a surprise pick here, as did not have him rated in its top-100 prospects list. Baseball America had Jones listed as the 193rd prospect on its list.

    At 6'3" and 185 pounds, Jones can put on a lot of muscle on his tall frame. As a senior in high school, Jones batted .479 with 11 home runs and 43 RBI. 

    Jones also did some pitching this past season, throwing 40.1 innings, striking out 63 and compiling a 1.23 ERA. His fastball is in the low 90s. Although these numbers are impressive, the Giants project Jones as a third baseman.

    The other key issue with Jones is whether he will elect to sign with the Giants. He had a 4.0 GPA and has been accepted into Stanford University.

    The Stanford education may be too good to pass up for Jones, who may opt to play for Stanford and try to advance into a first-round selection down the road.

    *All stats courtesy of

No. 14: Andrew Susac, Catcher

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    Andrew Susac was selected in the second round of the 2011 amateur draft. Susac played his college ball at Oregon State University.

    In his first season with the Giants' organization, 2012, Susac played in San Jose, the Giants' Single-A affiliate. He encountered some growing pains both offensively and defensively.

    Susac only hit .244, with nine home runs and 52 RBI in 361 at-bats. Susac's OBP was a very solid .351, which showed his patience and knowledge of the strike zone.

    Defensively, Susac was expected to step in and have no problems. However, he committed 14 errors and allowed 10 passed balls. Susac also threw out only 32 percent of the runners attempting to steal.

    Susac was promoted to Richmond, the Giants' Double-A club and seems to have gotten on more solid footing. He is currently hitting .270, with six home runs and 29 RBI in 163 at-bats. Again, showing a good knowledge of the strike zone, Susac's OBP is a robust .388.

    Susac's OPS of .860 is 129 points above his level in 2012. He is maturing nicely as an offensive player. 

    Defensively, Susac has also improved. He has committed only three errors and gunned down 42 percent on steal attempts.

    *All stats courtesy of

No. 13: Francisco Peguero, Outfielder

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    Francisco Peguero has been right on the fringe of making and sticking on the Giants roster. He was a September call-up in 2012 and also had a short sting in the Majors this season.

    In a total of 32 big league at-bats, Peguero is hitting .188. The sample size is too small to make any final judgments on Peguero, at this point.

    Peguero is doing well in the minors, hitting .329 at the Giants' Triple-A affiliate in Fresno. In 140 at-bats, Peguero has three home runs and 16 RBI. His OBP is .369, and he has an OPS of .805.

    Now 25 years of age, Peguero needs to take the next step forward. He is a good defensive player, has a strong arm and can run.

    The biggest concern with Peguero is whether he can develop the plate discipline to enable him to be an everyday performer with the Giants. Peguero does not have a lot of power, so he needs to quit swinging at pitches out of the strike zone and must become more selective.

    Peguero needs to make significant progress within the next two years, otherwise he will be branded a 4-A player.

    *All stats courtesy of

No. 12: Daniel Slania, Pitcher

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    Dan Slania is an intriguing prospect because he could be ready for the Majors a lot faster than the Giants' earlier selections in the amateur draft.

    Slania has a large frame, the type that make scouts salivate. He is 6'5" and 265 pounds. Slania has a good fastball that he can ramp up into the mid-90s and a very effective slider. 

    Slania has held the closer role at Notre Dame in his past two seasons. In 2013, his junior year, Slania appeared in 24 games and worked 59.1 innings. Slania has 13 saves and has held opponents to a .217 batting average. He also has not allowed a home run this season.

    Perhaps the biggest positive attribute that Slania possesses is his command. He has struck out 43 hitters while walking only 11. Slania crafted an ERA of 1.21 and WHIP of 0.9775.

    At the age of 21, Slania is more advanced than his years and is far ahead of pitchers coming out of high school.

    *Stats are courtesy of

No. 11: Joe Panik, 2nd Base

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    Joe Panik was the Giants' first-round draft pick (No. 29 overall) in the 2011 amateur draft. He was originally signed as a shortstop but has been playing second base for the Richmond Flying Squirrels, the Giants' Double-A affiliate.

    In Richmond, Panik is hitting .274 with one home run and 21 RBI in 226 at-bats. Panik has an excellent OBP of .363, which is important because he does not possess much power.

    The main question about Panik is whether he can develop enough offensively to be more than a utility infielder in the Majors.

    The Giants selected another middle infielder, Christian Arroyo, with their first selection in this year's amateur draft. Arroyo projects to be a better hitter with more power than Panik.

    This selection of Arroyo may signal that the Giants are concerned about Panik's development as a hitter. Panik needs to step it up, or he could be passed by Arroyo very quickly.

    *Stats are courtesy of

No. 10: Michael Kickham, Pitcher

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    Michael Kickham had an opportunity to pitch with the Giants in May. Unfortunately, he was unable to get out of the third inning against the Oakland A's, allowing four runs. 

    Kickham pitched a perfect first inning against the A's, but then a long home by Derek Norris in the second seemed to unnerve him. Kickham started nibbling and falling behind the hitters, and that got him into trouble.

    He ended up walking four and finished his outing with an ERA of 15.43 and WHIP of 3.429. Kickham did show a live arm and made several good pitches. However, when he faced adversity, he was unable to overcome it.

    Kickham is back in the minors with the Giants' Triple-A affiliate in Fresno. In 61 innings of work, Kickham has struck out 59 while walking 24. If Kickham continues to pitch well in Fresno, he will most likely get another shot in San Francisco.

    Kickham is most likely a back-of-the-rotation starter at best.

    *Stats courtesy of 

No. 9: Josh Osich, Pitcher

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    Josh Osich is quickly making a name for himself within the Giants' organization. Osich was selected in the sixth round of the 2011 amateur draft and has spent his first two seasons in San Jose, the Giants' High-A affiliate.

    Osich is throwing the ball extremely well in San Jose, compiling an ERA of 1.27 and WHIP of 0.988. In 28.1 innings of work, the left-handed relief specialist has allowed 23 hits. His strikeout-to-walk ratio is outstanding, with 34 strikeouts against only five walks.

    With the Giants' top left-handed relievers Jeremy Affeldt and Javier Lopez being 34 and 35 years of age, respectively, Osich could find himself on the fast track to San Francisco.

    *Stats courtesy of

No. 8: Chris Stratton, Pitcher

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    Chris Stratton was selected by the Giants in the first round of the 2012 amateur draft, No. 20 overall. He is currently pitching in Single-A ball with Augusta, one step below San Jose.

    At the age of 22, Stratton fits the mold of several of the Giants' starting pitchers. He has a tall frame at 6'3" and weighs in at 190 pounds.

    In 59.2 innings, Stratton has allowed 52 hits and 21 walks to go along with 63 strikeouts. Stratton has an ERA of 3.77 and WHIP of 1.223.

    Pitching in mid-level A-ball at this point, it would be ideal for Stratton to move up to San Jose later this year. He is likely two or three years away from a major league shot, even if everything goes well.

    Nevertheless, the Giants like his upside, and he projects as a middle-of-the-rotation starter.

    *Stats courtesy of

No. 7: Adam Duvall, 3rd Base

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    Adam Duvall is the one prospect in the Giants' minor league system with true big league caliber power. In 2012, Duvall showcased his power with 30 home runs and 100 RBI for San Jose.

    Duvall's batting average was mediocre at only .258, as he often struggled to make contact. He struck out 116 times in 534 at-bats.

    Duvall was promoted to the Giants' Double-A affiliate in Richmond to start the 2013 campaign. He has done a much better job of making contact, and his batting average has jumped to .320. Also impressive is his OBP of .393 and OPS of 1.013.

    Duvall has five home runs and 20 RBI in 100 at-bats in the tougher Eastern League. Although those numbers are down from what he accomplished in San Jose, his ability to make solid contact and get on base more than makes up for it.

    The Giants' current third baseman, Pablo Sandoval, will be a free agent after the 2014 season. If his weight continues to be a problem (causing nagging injuries) or if he chooses to go elsewhere, Duvall may be the answer.

    The Giants may not want to commit to the enormous amount of money or the length of the contract that Sandoval could demand when he hits the open market.

    The Giants are giving Duvall the opportunity to hone his skills, and his future with the Giants may well be tied to what happens with Sandoval over the next two years.

    *All stats courtesy of

No. 6: Christian Arroyo, Shortstop

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    The San Francisco Giants selected Christian Arroyo out of Hernando High School in Brooksville, Florida. At first glance, the selection seems a bit curious because Arroyo is a shortstop, and the Giants already have a good, young shortstop in Brandon Crawford.

    However, looking beneath the superficial position viewpoint, this pick makes a lot of sense. He has displayed a definite ability to hit. An infielder who is a potential top-notch hitter is a tremendous asset. The Giants believe Arroyo has those tools.

    As a shortstop, Arroyo has the skills and athleticism to make the move to second or third base. Therefore, if he indeed develops into a major league player, the Giants would have no problem shifting him to a different position to get his bat into the lineup.

    In his senior year, Arroyo hit .524 with 11 home runs in only 105 at-bats.

    Arroyo also showcased his talent against top-level competition when he was named MVP of the 18U Baseball World Championship game between the USA and Canada, which was played in South Korea.

    The Giants' biggest difficulty may be in convincing him to pass up his collegiate opportunity at the University of Florida, where he has committed. Arroyo was the class salutatorian of his high school and excelled in the classroom with a 4.4 weighted GPA.

    The Giants must have felt confident they could sign Arroyo, otherwise they would not have invested their top pick on him.

    *Stats courtesy of

No. 5: Gary Brown, Outfield

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    The San Francisco Giants made Gary Brown their first-round selection in the 2010 amateur draft. Brown has excellent speed and is an outstanding defensive player. The question is whether he will become a major league-caliber hitter.

    Brown was arguably the Giants' top prospect, but his recent woes have moved him down the ladder. When he was drafted, the Giants envisioned him as their leadoff hitter for several years. Thus far, Brown has not shown enough to warrant that initial target.

    Now in his third full season of minor league ball, Brown is struggling at Double-A Richmond. In 238 at-bats, Brown is hitting only .206 with three home runs, 24 RBI and 41 runs scored. Brown's OBP is a woeful .273, and his OPS a meek .592.

    Brown has not shown the instincts to have a high percentage of success stealing bases either. He has only six steals on the year and has been thrown out five times.

    The Giants were originally hoping Brown could be ready for the Majors in 2013, but at the rate he's currently going, one has to wonder if he will ever make it.

    *Stats courtesy of

No. 4: Clayton Blackburn, Pitcher

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    Outside of Tim Lincecum, the San Francisco Giants seem to have it in their plans to stockpile big, strong pitchers. Clayton Blackburn fits this mold perfectly, as he stands 6'3" and weighs 220 pounds.

    Blackburn is only 20 years of age and will only get stronger over the next few years. Currently pitching in San Jose, Blackburn has thrown 58.2 innings and allowed 50 hits, with an ERA of 4.30 and WHIP of 1.159.

    One of the areas that has excited the Giants' management is Blackburn's improved control. He has walked only 18 batters while striking out 69. This shows great command, especially considering his young age.

    Blackburn throws a two-seam and four-seam fastball in the low-to-mid 90s range. He has a lot of movement on his pitches and can get a lot of sinking action on the two-seam fastball. Blackburn's curve and changeup are also above-average pitches.

    *Stats courtesy of

No. 3: Heath Hembree, Pitcher

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    Heath Hembree encountered some arm trouble in 2012 that hindered his progress and shut him down for about two months. Now back and pitching for the Giants' Triple-A affiliate in Fresno, Hembree is regaining the power and command he lost in 2012.

    The Giants are still being careful not to overwork Hembree, as he is still being thought of as a late-inning reliever. In the minors, Hembree has held down the role of closer and could be in line to do that in San Francisco.

    In 2013, Hembree has worked 26.1 innings in 25 games. He has 14 saves thus far.

    Hembree has allowed 27 hits and eight walks while striking out 29. Hembree has an ERA of 3.76 and WHIP of 1.329, which are not bad in the offensively focused Pacific Coast League.

    Hembree is really a two-pitch pitcher, with a fastball in the mid-to-upper 90s and a good, hard slider. He is working on an off-speed pitch, which will help him keep opposing hitters off balance.

    If Hembree stays healthy and is throwing the ball well, expect to see him as a September call-up—if not sooner.

    *Stats courtesy of

No. 2: Martin Agosta, Pitcher

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    Martin Agosta was selected by the Giants in Round 2 of the 2012 amateur draft. He signed late and only threw 10.2 innings in 2012.

    Agosta has burst onto the scene in 2013. There is no other Giants player who has jumped up the prospect list like Agosta has this year.

    In 54.2 innings of work, Agosta has allowed 39 hits and 23 walks while striking out 71. Agosta's walks are a bit high, and he is working on gaining a better command of the strike zone.

    Agosta is currently playing for Augusta, the Giants' mid-level Single-A affiliate. Agosta has an ERA of 2.47 and WHIP of 1.134 in his first full year of professional baseball. 

    Agosta features a fastball in the low-to-mid 90s range to go along with a cutter and curve ball. His changeup is a work in progress and once he masters it, it will make him an even better pitcher.

    *Stats are courtesy of

No. 1: Kyle Crick, Pitcher

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    Kyle Crick was selected in the supplemental first round of the 2011 amateur draft, No. 49 overall. He is still only 20 years of age and has a tremendous upside.

    Crick is 6'4" and 220 pounds, again fitting the mold of the Giants' big, strong starting pitchers not named Tim Lincecum.

    Crick is currently pitching for San Jose and has thrown only 9.2 innings due to an early-season oblique injury.

    In 2012, while with Augusta, Crick threw 111.1 innings, allowing only 75 hits and walking 67. He also struck out 128 hitters. The bases on balls are way too high, and Crick is working on his command this season.

    Crick features a fastball in the mid-to-upper 90s and is developing his specialty pitches. Crick has the ability to be a top-of-the-rotation starter.

    *Stats courtesy of

Bruce Bochy Guides the Giants with a Steady Hand

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    The San Francisco Giants' top prospects are mostly in Single-A or Double-A. Realistically, the best the Giants can hope for is that these guys will be ready in a couple of years. There is no immediate or exciting help on the way right now.

    The Giants' top prospects are pitchers, which is a big reason they went with position players in their first two selections of the amateur draft. 

    Now the onus is on the Giants farm system to develop these players and maximize their potential.