There’s no denying that the Giants have had plenty of success over the past few years, and much of that has been due to home-grown players like Buster Posey (Thank you, draft gods) Tim Lincecum, and Matt Cain. So it’s a bit odd to see the system come to this point, as it now sits as one of the worst systems in all of the National League due in large part to some questionable (at best) draft picks and some questionable (again at best) trades. There are some intriguing arms, but few are guaranteed to be starters at the next level and all but the top two profile as back-end guys. There’s very little here in terms of offensive firepower, and few teams have less depth in the outfield. There’s a lot to like about being a fan of San Francisco right now, but the farm system is not one of them.
|1||Kyle Crick||RHP||L/R||6-4 / 225|
|There’s a lot to like about Crick, a right-hander with the size and stuff you would look for in a prototypical ace. But there’s still a considerable amount of work to be done before he reaches the big-league level, and many have doubts as to what his ultimate role will be when that time comes.
Crick’s fastball can compete with the best of them, a plus-plus pitch that will clock in the mid 90′s and occasionally touch 97 with late life that explodes out of the right-handers hand. His slider also is a big-boy pitch; while it doesn’t have the tilt of a typical plus breaking-ball, it’s break is so late and it’s so difficult to pick up that it ends up causing plenty of swings and misses. His change is still very much a work in progress, but it will occasionally tease scouts as an above-average pitch with plenty of fade, though the deception is inconsistent at this point.
What worries some — including me — about Crick, however, is his delivery. There’s a great deal of effort from start to finish, and he struggles to find a consistent landing spot, often leaving balls up in the zone. His overall command is unlikely to be anything more than average, so he’ll need the change to continue it’s development if he’s going to be a starter at the next level. Still, with two plus pitching — and a non-zero chance for a third — Crick could be a solid No. 2, with high-leverage reliever as a floor.
ETA: LATE 2015
|2||Andrew Susac||C||R/R||6-2 / 210|
|I’m really not sure why Susac isn’t discussed as one of the best catching prospects in baseball, but he should be. Though he doesn’t possess upper-echelon bat speed, Susac has a strong lower-half and gets rotational through his swing, which leads to plus to above-average power to all parts of the field. There’s some swing-and-miss in his game, but he makes up for the fringe-average hit tool by working counts into his favor and he should be able to get on base enough to justify playing everyday.
Even if the hit tool doesn’t reach average, Susac would have a chance to be a starting backstop thanks to the improvement in his defense. He’s a well-below-average athlete, but his receiving skills get better each year, and a quick release and above-average arm give him the chance to throw out all but the fleetest of foot runners.
He’s blocked by that one guy, but Susac profiles as an above-average regular, and if the Giants do decide to move Posey to first at some point Susac should be the replacement.
|3||Edwin Escobar||LHP||L/L||6-2 / 200|
|There are a few arms that competed for this spot, and while a few arms have higher ceilings than Escobar, he represents the best chance of reaching said ceiling with three average-to-above-average pitches and plus control. He’s not overpowering with a fastball in the low 90′s, but he locates the pitch well to both sides of the plate and there’s life to the arm-side as well. His best off-speed pitch is a change that has good deception from his arm speed, though there’s not enough movement to call the pitch a plus future offering. Escobar’s slider is the weakest of the three pitches, projecting as average at the next level but he can throw it for strikes and there’s enough tilt for it to get left and right-handed hitters out. He has very good feel for pitching and attacks the strike zone, and while the control is ahead of the command, he’s generally down in the zone and rarely is is more than a glove away from hitting his spot.
It’s not terribly sexy, but Escobar should be a starer at the big-league level. With back-end floor and a chance to be a number three.
ETA: LATE 2014
|4||Adalberto Mejia||LHP||L/L||6-3 / 195|
|Mejia made significant strides in 2013, more than holding his own as a 20 year-old in the California League and showing two plus pitches from the left side. His fastball sits 91-93, but he’s touched 95 and there’s a chance to sit in the 92-94 range because of his arm strength and smooth delivery. Both his change and slider will flash above-average at times, but the slider has a chance to be a knockout pitch if he can show more consistency with it in terms of tilt and location. He throws strikes with all three of his pitches, but the command is still sub-par and consistency with all three of hits pitches has been an issue.
If Mejia maxes out he’s a No. 2, but more likely he’s a solid back-end starter, with a non-zero chance that he ends up in the pen.
|5||Joan Gregorio||RHP||R/R||6-7 / 180|
|There’s an awful lot to like about Gregorio, starting with plus arm-strength and a frame that should allow him to add more to a fastball that sits in the low 90′s but will touch 96 with a great deal of movement. His slider is a plus future offering, with late tilt and hard break into the feet of left-handed hitters that should cause swings and misses as it develops. The only thing missing right now is a competent third pitch and the command to start, as he struggles to hit his spots and repeat his delivery, and his change has little-to-no movement and some arm-speed difference lowers the deception.
Worst case scenario Gregerio is death to right-handed hitters, but if the change and command develop he’s a top-of-the-rotation starter, and there’s plenty of time for the Giants to let his arm develop.
|6||Clayton Blackburn||RHP||L/R||6-3 / 220|
|Blackburn has the best chance of any arm in the system of reaching his potential, though his stuff essentially limits him to the back of the rotation. His fastball will touch 93 but is mostly 90-92, but he commands the heck out of it and keeps the ball down well enough to limit the damage. He has three off-speed pitches at his disposal, and while none of them look to be a plus offering, they all should at least be average with the curve and change flashing above-average at times. Despite being on the large side his arm works well and he can throw any of his pitches in any count for a strike.
The one concern is that he hasn’t yet made it to AA as a 21 year-old, but it’s difficult to see Blackburn not being a No. 4 starter, even if that’s the likely upside without a significant upgrade in stuff.
|7||Mac Williamson||RF||R/R||6-4 / 245|
|Williamson continues to move up the prospect ranks, and a bat that once looked like a platoon outfielder who might have to move to first base now has a shot to be an everyday rightfielder. Williamson — as you could likely guess from his height and weight — is very strong, and though the bat speed is only average, when he squares up he can take the ball out to left and right-center with good extension. The question is the hit-tool; I give it a chance to be average and he’ll draw walks, but the lack of bat speed hurts and he struggles with breaking-balls, particularly down the other way.
Defensively, Williamson gets better every year, improving his reads on balls and with surprising athleticism. The arm is strong (he was more highly rated as a pitcher out of high school) and generally accurate, though at times he will struggle to hit the cut-off man.
Worst comes to worst, Williamson should be a bench-bat who can mash lefties, but I’d give him a 50-50 chance of being an everyday outfielder who can hit 25 homers and get on-base just enough to justify as a starter.
|8||Christian Arroyo||SS/2B||R/R||6-1 / 180|
|Arroyo was somewhat of a surprise first-round pick (though he was one of the few picks that I nailed in my final mock draft), as most thought he was closer to a second-to-third round talent. The Giants appear to have known what they were doing, however, as he was one of the more impressive prospects in Arizona this summer. The bat is going to carry Arroyo, as he has excellent feel for hitting and a line-drive stroke from a quick trigger that is capable of hitting the ball hard to all parts of the field. He’s got very little in terms of power — his swing is flat plane and he doesn’t have a big build to begin with — but he should be able to at least make defenses honest by putting the ball into the gap.
The question is where Arroyo ends up defensively. Many believed the Giants might move Arroyo to catcher, but San Francisco appears to want him up the middle. More than likely he’s going to end up at second base, where his average speed and arm play better than on the other side of the bag. The bat should play there, though, and it wouldn’t surprise me if Arroyo is the best offensive prospect in the system starting next year.
GLOVE 40-45 (SS)
|9||Ty Blach||LHP||L/L||6-1 / 200|
|Blach is essentially the left-handed version of Blackburn in terms of his arsenal, with solid feel for pitching and four average offerings. His fastball will sit 90-92, though he’ll hit 94 with his four-seamer and there’s some sink on his two-seam fastball. His best pitch is his change, a pitch that offers plenty of deception from excellent arm speed and just enough fade to cause swings and misses or weak contact. Blach also throws a slider and curve that tend to run into each other, which both projecting as fringe-average. I’d probably scrap the slider and go with the curve, which shows more swing and miss ability with above-average spin and some depth. He generally throws strikes, though his delivery will “fly open” on occasion, which causes him to miss up and takes away some of the deception.
Blach should be a starter at the big league level, mid-rotation if everything breaks right and a No. 5/swing man as a realistic floor.
|10||Heath Hembree||RHP||R/R||6-4 / 205|