Sunday, December 1, 2013

Down on the Farm: BA's Top 10 Giants Prospects

Got my BA in the mail yesterday.  It has the top 10 prospects from the NL West teams.  Here's what they have for the Giants:

1.  Kyle Crick, RHP.  BD  11/30/1992.  6'4", 225 lbs.  Drafted 2011 Supplemental First Round(HS).
     High A:  3-1, 1.57, 69 IP, 39 BB, 95 K.  

2.  Edwin Escobar, LHP.  BD  4/22/1992.  6'1", 195 lbs.  Obained in trade with Texas Rangers for Ben Snyder in 2010.  High A:  3-4, 2.89, 75 IP, 17 BB, 92 K's.  AA:  5-4, 2.67, 54 IP, 13 BB, 54 K.

3.  Chris Stratton, RHP.  BD  8/22/1990.  6'3", 186 lbs.  Drafted First Round 2012(College).
     Low A:  9-3, 3.27, 132 IP, 47 BB, 123 K.

4.  Adalberto Mejia, LHP.  BD  6/20/1993.  6'3", 205 lbs.  Signed Dominican Republic 2011 $350 K.
     High A:  7-4, 3.31, 87 IP, 23 BB, 89 K.

5.  Mac Williamson, OF.  BD  7/15/1990.  6'4", 245 lbs.  Drafted 2012 3'rd round(College).
     High A:  .292/.375/.504, 25 HR, 10 SB.

6.  Christian Arroyo, SS.  BD  5/30/1995.  6'1", 180 lbs.  Drafted 2013 First Round(HS).
     Rookie AZL  .326/.388/.511, 2 HR, 3 SB in 184 AB.

7.  Heath Hembree, RHP.  BD  1/13/1989.  6'4", 205 lbs.  Drafted 2010, 5'th Round(College).
     AAA  1-4, 4.07, 55 IP, 16 BB, 63 K, 31 Saves.  MLB  0-0, 0.00, 8 IP, 2 BB, 12 K.

8.  Ty Blach, LHP.  BD  10/20/1990.  6'2", 200 lbs.  Drafted 2012, 5'th Round(College).
     High A  12-4, 2.90, 130 IP, 18 BB, 117 K.

9.  Joe Panik, 2B.  BD  10/30/1990.  6'1", 195 lbs.  Drafted 2011 First Round(College).
     AA  .257/.333/.347, 4 HR, 10 SB, 58 BB, 68 K.

10.  Clayton Blackburn, RHP.  BD  1/6/1993.  6'3", 220 lbs.  Drafted 2011, 16'th Round(HS).
      High A  7-5, 3.65, 133 IP, 35 BB, 138 K.

Comment:  I can't find too much to argue about with this list.  There are two additional prospects who I think deserve consideration for top 10 placement:  OF Gustavo Cabrera and RHP Keury Mella:

Cabrera is a true 5 tool prospect who convinced me his bat will play with his second half performance in the DSL.  Unfortunately, his entire future career is currently in the balance due to a severe laceration to his right wrist suffered in an apparent freak home accident.  I'm not sure how you rank a prospect like that which will be the subject of a future post.  Prior to the accident, I was actually toying with the thought of ranking him #2 overall!

Keury Mella had a nice AZL campaign in 2013 and lit up the fall instructional league with a 96 MPH fastball and an imposing demeaner on the mound.  If you have not seen the videos, look them up!  I think Cove Chatter still has links to them.  Cove Chatter is linked to the left. It is my belief that Mella may well be the #2 pitching prospect in the system right now.  As you can see, that is saying a lot!


  1. Susac is pushing that (if the Monell trade is indicative)! I could see him being being at aaa next year and in the wings. I know there is nothing to it but would be nice to see Posey field 3b next year.


    1. I agree. Susac deserves consideration for top 10 placement also.

  2. I dont think there is any reason to rush moving Posey to 3B unless Pablo gets traded which doesn't seem likely. I think it is a good idea to give him some time there in ST and maybe some starts there when Pablo breaks some other bone I have never heard of. I think Belt is valuable at 1B because of his bat and glove. Posey eventually going to 3B is something that sounds good on paper. He played just about everywhere at Florida St. Whether he will stick there nobody knows. I think we need at true LF and this will come most likely through a trade. More LFers will probably be available at the trade deadline so I don't see the urgency as long as our starting pitchers are doing well. If we have another bad year of Lincecum and Vogelsong then getting an impact bat for LF will be moot. I think a platoon of Perez and Blanco should be decent for now. But, if we are in contention near the trade deadline I would like them to flex their muscles and get at least one impact bat or a high OBP guy.

  3. Hembree is practically not a prospect at this point.

    Susac instead of Panik for me. If they did the list before the AFL concluded that might have changed, the different reviews are coming in from various sources (even BA) and they all are saying Susac is legit. It might be risky to use that showcase league as a barometer, but couple that with Susac's solid play in the Eastern, I think it's enough. As long as he stays healthy.

    So they have the entire SJ rotation, no surprise because they were all in the BA top 20 for the CA league (along with Mac). Agosta and Gregorio had great statistical years but also blister problems and its only low-A. I'd drop Stratton top the bottom of the top 10, but BA is very in love with the Giants pitcher whisperer rep and the Ninja's capability, so they're giving him the benefit of the doubt.

    Mella is a great look, but I think he has to do something in low-A or SJ before he gets too much hype.

    1. I would drop Stratton down somewhere in the 6-10 range myself. Susac vs Panik is a close call. I like both of 'em.

    2. I like Grinding Joe Panik as well, but this is a results oriented thing, and Susac outperformed him handily at a better position of scarcity at the same level. I'd drop Panik to just outside the top 10, expecting him to make the show still. His ISO is really fading, that's the worry, and his K/BB is still stellar, that's the good news.

      Stratton is tough, we have the news that he was following a plan in low-A, but his velocity has been a concern. I'd go #9 or 10 just because of the Giants rep, and not wanting to look stupid the next year, but he needs to show results next year or he isn't even a b-arm as Sabean trade fodder.

      I'd HM Flores as well, because of his uptick in velocity. And I'd actually put in Gregorio in at 10 instead of Panik because if you're going to take a shot at upside busting through and looking like a genius, might as well go with a guy who gained huge in the velocity and has a great sinker ball profile. If a tad skinny...

  4. I'm not sure why everyone is trying to move Buster out of catcher? Catcher is the position he wants to play and I don't see the Giants doing anything not to please Buster. He is young and the Cousins thing is not going to happen again. Yeah, foul tips and stress on knees are factors, but a liner in the dirt that comes up at 3B definitely leads to crossed eyes or lips like Angelina Jolie... How about a one hop liner to the throat or family jewels? No matter where you play in baseball it has its happenings. In due time, but not now.


    1. There are a lot more foul tips than liners to the throat at 3B. Concussions from foul tips have become a significant problem in MLB. Buster clearly has more value in the short term at catcher, but he's signed to a long term contract. You'd hate to lose him to a concussion in years 3 of an 8 year contract. Also, I don't know how you can say another home plate collision is not going to occur. Yes, they have taken steps to minimize the risk, but you can't just say it's never going to happen.

  5. Here's the link to the Mella video:

    I would also say Mella might be the #2 pitching prospect in the organization, and I would have no problem putting him there if he goes to Augusta and holds his own next year. I do think he's deserving of a top 10 spot at this point though. Baggs isn't very high on Susac, so I'm not surprised he didn't give him a spot. In my book, he's a no doubt top 10 prospect in this organization.

    Blackburn gets no love... let me show you my shocked face. He'll need to keep proving people wrong, but I don't see why he can't.

    1. Was that a do think or don't think on Mella being top ten right now? Personally I want to see what happens outside rookie ball, but obviously he has scouts attention with that fastball.

    2. I'm pretty sure Covechatter meant he DOES think Mella should be in the top 10. I know he was very impressed by the video from instructionals as was I.

    3. I'm hella impressed with Mella! How's that?

    4. Hella... that's very NorCal of you, DrB. We don't use words like that out here in Big Sky Country. And yes, I DO think he belongs in the Top 10. Where you'd slot Gregorio at 10, I'd give that spot to Mella. From what I saw, not only does the guy bring it, but he knows how to pitch too... and that breaking ball, man. I actually am very surprised that Mella doesn't get much press. Hopefully that changes next year.

      Personally, I'd give Panik the 1st spot outside the top 10, then slot the Augusta trio of Flores, Agosta and Gregorio in behind him (in that order).

      So, if I were to draw up a SP depth chart (which I have), it would look something like this.

      1. Crick
      2. Escobar
      3. Mejia
      4. Blackburn
      5. Stratton
      6. Blach
      7. Mella
      8. Flores
      9. Agosta
      10. Gregorio

      Now THAT is depth, ladies and gents...

    5. That's a hella nice list of arms. Not only is that NorCal, I think it actually originates in the East Bay, but that could be my Oakland/Berkeley hep cat arrogance talking...

      I was way down on Gregorio before, so its a swing back the other way for me, because if the reports of 94-96 MPH with that sinker and still room to grow are true... Plus the numbers he's putting up, demonstrating control, which is hard for 6'7 guys. Both Gregorio and Flores had "come out" games where they flat out dominated, getting big notice. But Gregorio is also high, high risk so that's a hard call.

      I think Mella is a great arm to have, and if he does something similar to what Mejia, Gregorio or Flores did in the past 2 years at Augusta I say go for it. Its always a good part of the fun of prospecting to call your shot before they get a lot of notice. I'd say that Flores had hype, then had a bad year, then is coming with the hype again. That's why you wait for the high minors to really crank it up.

      So you guys with your Mella, that sounds nice. I'll see you with Gregorio, we'll all be happy if somebody starts zooming. And I also like Agosta a ton, always have, even with the "small body reliever" call from those pigeon holing scouts.

    6. At the moment, I'll take Mella as the potential big-time breakout arm. I think I'd take Flores and Agosta just a tick ahead of Gregorio for the time being. Flores with the recent reports about hitting 95, and the dominant change, wins out among that trio to me. And Agosta gives me inner struggle. Pure domination at times, but the health and struggles down the stretch left a sour taste in my mouth. The walks too... still, ERA total lower for the season than the best month from Stratton!

      Gregorio has a chance to be a monster as well, but his monthly splits beyond April don't look too great. I know there were a couple of blow-up starts mixed in there that definitely ran the ERA up (happens to the best of em, including Matt Cain). All 3 of those cats (Flores, Agosta, Gregorio) supposedly dialing it up to 95 in Augusta sounds just fine to me... should make a nice follow-up for the Crick crew next year in San Jose.

    7. Gregorio and Flores are older than Edwin Escobar, which isn't the end of the world, but something to at least chew on. They're also older than Mejia/Blackburn/Crick. Actually Gregorio and Flores bracket recent college pitcher draftees Chase Johnson and Nick Vander Tuig, but they will most likely pitch a level up from those two guys, along with Agosta and Stratton.

      I don't get too hopped up about age/level, but obviously its best to be pitching young in leagues rather than the opposite. The Giants have seriously challenged Blackburn and Mejia, and they've been up to the task.

      And that's what's so cool about the possible slotting of Arroyo to SJ. If that happens...

  6. I like Blackburn and Ty Blach as well. While their ceilings aren't as high as Cricks, it wouldn't surprise me to see them move quickly through the high minors because they've put up good BB/K #'s in their pro careers thus far. I'm intersted to see what Baggs had to say about Stratton. It wouldn't surprise me if 1 of these ptchers in the top 10, except for Crick, is used as trade bait for a LF.


    1. Well, I'll try to paraphrase Bagg's on Stratton: Has excellent downward movement on a 2S FB and a tight slider that is a strikeout pitch. Still working on a curve and a changeup that are coming along. Will probably be assigned to SJ and needs to be more "crisp" with his stuff.

    2. Stratton is a tough case... I know he'll probably get many more favorable rankings like the one Baggs gave him. Looking at his makeup and pedigree, it's very tempting. College All-American, 1st round pick, dials it up to 95 (maybe?), dominant slider... but every time I talk myself into giving him the benefit of the doubt, I look a little closer at those numbers. Stratton's best individual month was July, when he had a 2.14 ERA in 4 starts. Martin Agosta had a lower ERA over 18 total starts! Kendry Flores' numbers make Stratton's look pedestrian.

      I know the ability is still in there, but at this point, I just can't rank Stratton above 4 guys who are all younger and have performed better at higher levels than he has at Low A (Crick, Mejia, Escobar, Blackburn). I think I'm doing him a favor by ranking him above Ty Blach.

      Personally, I would love to see the Giants take the training wheels off Stratton and let him pitch in Richmond next year, so we can all find out what he's made of!

  7. Take home message here: Giants have a good thing going in their farm system and it's highly underrated.

    Here's a few bullet points:

    1. Crick is a #1 that would make any organization proud. Maybe still a year or 2 away but has a ceiling as high as any pitching prospect in baseball.

    2. While there is a definite dropoff from #1 to #2, there is almost no dropoff from #2 to #10 and I think we have added at least 5 more to that tier in GCab(assuming he's healthy), Mella, Susac, Flores and Big Joan Gregorio.

    3. I looked over the other top 10's from the NL West and I'll take the Giants #6-10 over all the others, including the Padres who I think are pretty highly rated. This means that the large second tier that goes all the way down to at least #15 is because #6-15 are strong and not because #2-5 are weak.

    The system has come a long way in just 1 year and I expect it to take another jump next year as the A ball kids hit the upper minors.

    1. Big year coming for our Dandies. The Giants appear to have some good IFA scouting hitting an undervalued asset, with Escobar (trade, but apparently the Gigantes were all over him before and Texas signed him through a family connection), Mejia, Flores, Mella, Gregorio is a hella 5, that cost less than a million bucks btw.

      Lefties? Giants have a very enviable crew of lefties. I'd match them up with any org in baseball's lefties. We have starters, we have hybrids, we have relievers.

      And then Susac is quietly taking the Brandon Crawford path to the majors. Sleeper system baby!

      8 of the BA top ten (and Susac) are in Richmond or higher, and can threaten the show.

      Prospects flame out all the time. Gary Brown is at last gasp, Panik and Stratton will do their thing. The Giants shouldn't get singled out for this, I really wish Giants fans on the interwebz would go look at failure rates and comp the draft classes before they lay into the Braintrust on this one. Way too often prospects are comped to the Top 100 in baseball, and that just isn't a fair fight. Resource scarcity is tough, and every team gets their shots.

      It was a rough year for the big club but a lot of yoots took big steps forward. All 4 pitching staffs are worth watching next year in full season ball. When has that happened?

    2. How does this year's top 10 lists compare with those from the last, say, 15 years?

    3. 15 years? That's a long, long time ago, man! Sabes took over in 1997 so he's been GM for 16 years. If you are talking about Giants top 10, there is no comparison to the days prior to drafting Tim Lincecum. Maybe when the Giants had AFW(Ainsworth, Foppert, Williams) all coming along at once but they basically had nobody at all after those 3! After drafting Timmy they top of the system got very good as first Timmy then Bummy and then Buster Posey ruled the roost, but it was also quite shallow.

      Of course, we may look back in 5 or 10 years and say this year's list was shallow too, but IMO, the system has gotten a lot deeper over the last 2-3 years which is quite remarkable considering all the elite prospects blew through the minors and graduated way ahead of schedule. Another elite prospect was traded and another first rounder(Brown) is perilously close to becoming a busted prospect.

      One thing I would say is that in the past, once they got past the first 2 or 3 rounds of the draft, the Giants seemed to be mostly drafting to fill out the minor league rosters. I believe one of their scouing or development people said as much. In the last 2-3 years, it seems to me that they have made more of an effort to find true prospects throughout the draft as well as the international market and that is reflected in the increasing depth of the farm system.

    4. Maybe it's like you say that in 5 or 10 years, we will say it was shallow too; or maybe it's because it's always feel-good time every December/January.

      But it sure feels like this year's top 15 list is a very strong one, probably the strongest pitching wise, in overall depth, in the last 10 years.

  8. I'd put Susac as high as #3: a catcher who can rake and take walks. Yes please! AA tested. Young guys are just too far away for me. Stratton ?? Needs an impressive season in hitters league.

  9. Can't argue too much..Agree with BA i leaving off Mella and Cabrerra right now (even pre-injury)..Still too much "potential" and I'd like to see that potential in play at a higher level for both before fast tracking them.....

    They, unlike Sickels, have never really been too enthused with Blackburn becasue of his lack of dominating FB, ...but I think they are missing the boat on him..and a part of this is their stubborness to let go of their original evaluations no matter how wrong they might have been initially.....And why it could take years for a kid like Blackburn to pass the more initially highly rated Stratton in their eyes no matter their performances...

    But no biggie, this year as kid pitchers move up to Frsno, Rich and SJ respectively,we will get a far better indication of where everybody stands..


    1. I've seen Blackburn sit at 93 MPH with my own eyes(at least on the stadium gun) and that's plenty of velocity if you can command it and put good secondary stuff with it.

    2. Can we rehash the great secondary stuff that Blackburn works with? I recall him as a guy who works by keeping hitters off balance with great secondaries & good command, but I also feel like I remember him getting some of his pitches rated as "Best in the Org" in some review or other..

      4 K/BB, 9+ K/9, 1.10 WHIP at 20yrs don't grow on trees.. With the other pitchers in the system, I'm surprised he gets the press that he has..

    3. He's got a slow 11/5 curveball that goes in the high 70's on the radar gun and a changeup that he doesn't use much that is in the low 80's. It looked to me like he gave up his hard hits on hung curveballs. He may find that as he gets to higher levels, hitters start to recognize the curveball earlier. That's what happened to Timmy when he first came up and he had to essentially abandon the pitch. IMO, Blackburn needs to add a hard breaking pitch, either a slider or cutter, to his repertoire. Cutters seem to be fairly easy to learn, so I'd go with that.

  10. Let's talk position players.

    Any rumblings about moving Arroyo from shortstop?

    Any talk about Brown at all?

    What do we expect out of Panik in AAA? In the Majors? AAA: 300/380/400 5 hr 10 sb. Majors: 275/345/350 a few HR a few SB?

    1. Arroyo is expected to end up at 2B but has the arm to play 3B. Not much talk about Brown except a passing mention of his disappointing season and how that, along with Hembree's slow start and Kickham not being ready left the Giants without depth in 2013. Giants seem to be using Scutaro as a comp for the kind of bat they expect Panik to turn into, at least Baggs is.

  11. How does this top 10 fare when stacked up against the other 29 MLB farm system top 10's? Somewhere between 20-25? 15-20? Stratton #3 after the year in Augusta? Imagine comparing the talent above with the talent in the Red Sox or St. Louis organizations. Giants still have a long way to go to bring their farm up to snuff - just as their farm hands have a long way to go to become major league contributors. Nobody is doing much door knocking aside from Heath Hembree. Need productive years from Susac and Escobar. Stratton really needs to impress to earn a #3 ranking.

    1. Rankings are very subjective. I recall reading somewhere that someone like a BA writer or Sickels thinks they are in the 15-20 range but I would not be surprised to see BA rank them lower. I think the Giants system is still underrated mainly because it is deeper than strong at the top.

      I will say that after looking over the other top 10's from the NL West carefully, I would easily take Blackburn at #10 over every other #10.

      You can point to Stratton at #3, but you can also point to Blackburn at #10 or point to Susac, Flores, Gregorio, Mella and Gustavo who were left off entirely. I'm tellin' ya. Barring injury, Mella is going to be high up on this list next year!

    2. I would say that most of the top 10 are knocking on the door at this point, and Sabes already commented that AA is the proving ground (especially for pitchers). I also wouldn't be surprised to see a Cody Hall or Derek Law make a hard push for a roster spot this spring. When guys like Susac, Panik, and Escobar are headed for Fresno, to me that is knocking on the door big time.

    3. Yes, it's true...sometimes, the shortest route to the major leagues is a straight line connecting the prospect through Richmond, bypassing Fresno.

    4. The Giants have rarely been rated the top system in the majors, but if you look at the team from 2009-2013, they have a lot more homegrown core players than most other teams.

      Another example of missing how good the Giants are: throughout much of Cain's prospect years, BA and other experts would rate the Dodger's system as better, with better pitching than Cain, each year or two another guy was considered better than Cain, but here Cain is today, a leader on the Giants staff and none of the LA prospects better than him are with them or doing as well as Cain in the majors.