Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Dr B's 2014 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #8 Clayton Blackburn

Clayton Blackburn, RHP.  6'3", 220 lbs.  DOB  1/6/1993.

High A  7-5, 3.65, 133 IP, 35 BB, 138 K, GO/AO= 1.34.

Clayton Blackburn can be thought of in many ways as the RH mirror image of Adalberto Mejia.  He's a big kid who showed extraordinary command and pitchability at a young age, but has questions about his ceiling and whether his stuff will play at the highest levels.  The Giants drafted him out of HS in the 16'th round in 2011.  He signed almost immediately and rang up a 3-1, 1.08, 33.1 IP, 3 BB, 30 K line for the Arizona League Giants.  His 2012 assignment was to Low A Augusta where he continued to show similar dominance, 8-4, 2.56, 131.1 IP, 18 BB, 143 K.

His first half for San Jose of the High A California League was a bit of a struggle as his ERA went to over 4.  He turned it around in the second half with a 4-1, 2.40, 63.2 IP, 16 BB, 59 K run over his last 10 starts.  He took a perfect game into the 7'th inning against Lancaster on July 25.

There is some  variability in his scouting reports in regards to his velocity.  Baggs has him at 89-93 in his BA writeup.  I saw him pitch early in the season against Ranch Cucamonga and even though he got knocked around a bit, his FB sat 92-93 the whole start.  He also has a high 70's curveball with excellent action, a changeup and a slider.  I did not see the slide piece during his RC start and believe he would benefit from more liberal use of a harder breaking ball.  One big difference between him and Mejia is the groundball tendency although that slipped between low A and high A ball.  Baggs does allude to some nagging injuries that may have been partly to blame for his subpar showing in the first half.

Like Mejia and Kyle Crick, Blackburn should be part of the starting rotation for AA Richmond in 2014, a good place to solidify his game.


  1. Oh, and Happy New Year's, everybody!

  2. Happy New Year to you and to all.

  3. He'll have to prove out at every level, but I'll take a 19-20 year old putting up a 224 BAA in the CA league every day of the week. 133 IP, 111 H, 35 BB and 138 K. Much of the debate is over velocity, and I think it can be explained a bit with his 2seam-4seam combo. But here's the Baggs quote for the hell of it:

    Blackburn can pitch at 89-93 mph with his fastball but is more comfortable sitting 87-90 with the ability to throw his curve, changeup and slider for strikes in any count. His curveball has some power at up to 77 mph and earns some plus grades.

    He pitched a bit hurt early, and he did give up 12 HRs, but a lot of them came in big hitting ballparks. I'll take the early rough patch and figuring it out versus starting strong and fading.

    This guy is a Big Daddy horse. Who has to prove out at every level. C'est la guerre.

  4. Very impressive second half. Seemed to get even stronger after he straightened things out. I had forgotten about the near perfect game. He is a fun kid to watch pitch, that's for sure. Old pro in a young man's body. I love that big curve, but I think he hangs it a bit too much. If/when he learns to keep it below the zone, he'll be even tougher. I get the feeling some folks are starting to sour on him... for his sake, the Giants, and those of us who believe in his abilities, I hope that crowd turns out dead wrong.

  5. After reading these comments, I'm feeling bullish on Blackburn also.

    I imagine there are teams that would favor Blackburn over Escobar and Mejia. If you place premium value on groundballs, Blackburn would be one heck of a prospect. A big innings eater with a heavy fastball is a good thing for a rotation. Rick Reuschel, please.

    Won't be surprised if he makes a big league start in 2014. Happy New Year by the way.

  6. Happy New Year everyone! Keep these coming DrB, I enjoy reading them and everyone's comments.