Sunday, January 11, 2015

DrB's 2015 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #18 Ray Black

Ray Black, RHP.  DOB:  6/26/1990.  6'5", 225 lbs.

2014 Low A:  1-3, 3.73, 31.1 IP, 4.02 BB%, 18.38 K%
2014 High A:  1-0, 2.25, 4 IP, 4.25 BB%, 15.75 K%

Ray Black was drafted in round 7 of the 2011 draft out of Univ of Pittsburgh.  He was reputed to be a hard thrower, but was largely an unknown quantity.  Scouts had a hard time seeing him pitch because the team played in a lot of out-of-the way places and he did not pitch very often and usually for just 1 inning at a time.  He lit up radar guns in his first spring training, but 7 innings in, he suffered a labrum tear in his right shoulder.  He tried rehab for several months but did not improve.  He underwent surgery which historically is not very successful.  He was told he had about a 33% chance of pitching again.  He had some setbacks in rehab and finally came to camp last spring apparently fully healthy.

Black pitched in the high 90's and even hit 100 MPH a few times in the spring.  Then went to Augusta where he put himself on the Fangraphs radar by routinely hitting 100 and even 101 MPH in a game against Hickory attended by Fangraphs writer Nathaniel Stoltz who provided videotape of him facing several batters.  Black also has a slider that can be sharp at times but mostly seems to work as more of a changeup.  Several that I saw on the videos stayed up in the zone at around 89 MPH and hitters missed them because they were off balance looking for the FB.

I guess my feeling about Black is that he is a huge talent and a huge injury risk.  I don't think his injury risk goes down by staying longer in the minors.  You want to get as much, anything, you can out of him while you can.  The Giants should push him as fast as they can until they reach a point where he has to develop his stuff more to succeed.  If he can get MLB hitters out, then get what you can out of him while you can.  He was added to the 40 man roster this fall to protect him from the Rule 5 draft.  Not sure where he starts 2015, SJ? AA?  AAA?  MLB?  I would think he is in the mix, albeit maybe as a longshot, to make that last bullpen spot on the 25 man roster.

I should acknowledge Conner Penfold of Giant Potential who appears to be the first writer/blogger to recognize what the Giants might have in Black with a nice writeup and some video from spring training 2014.


  1. AH! I almost mentioned him in the Strickland post since they're both guys with triple-digit fastballs. Then decided to keep on subject.

    Glad to see he made the Top-20 list even if I have no idea where he should stand as it were.

  2. David Lee said there was no comparison between Black's slider and Strickland's... that Black's slider is dominant. Yet I ranked Black right about the same spot you did DrB. There's just too much risk in that shoulder right now. But if his arm and control continue to hold up, there's the closer of the future right there. I'm also in the "get this guy to the show ASAP" boat. He should be in Sacramento as late as June as far as I'm concerned.

    1. I have to say that in viewing the videos Nathanial Stoltz posted on Youtube, Black's slider did not look all that impressive. It mostly stayed up in the zone. It was effective more as a change of pace than due to it's break or location.