Monday, November 9, 2015

Giants 2015 Depth Charts: Starting Pitching

While the Giants have an acute need for starting pitching at the MLB level, the farm system got a lot stronger from top to bottom last year as multiple pitching prospects made significant progress and several promising arms were added in the 2015 draft.  As always, these rankings are my opinion.


Madison Bumgarner-L
Jake Peavy-R
Matt Cain-R
Christ Heston-R

Bumgarner would be the #1 for most teams.  There is one empty slot and the rest of the rotation is held together with bandaids and bailing wire.  Peavy is still quite good when he's healthy, but when was his last healthy season from start to finish?  Cain's last start provided some hope that another offseason removed from elbow surgery may get him back to being a solid contributor, but it's no more than a hope.  Heston looked great for the first half of the season then struggled mightily.  Was it fatigue or the league figuring him out?  The Giants clearly need to add two SP they can count on as they cannot go into the season with Peavy, Cain and Heston making up 3/5'ths of the rotation.


Clayton Blackburn- R
Ty Blach- L
Chris Stratton- R
Jack Snodgrass-L

Blackburn was the best pitcher in the PCL last year by a pretty large margin.  Achieving an ERA under 3.00 is something to be proud of in that league!  He could take a rotation spot next year, especially if the injuries mount up again.  Blach is a contact lefty whose stuff and style does not tend to play well in the PCL.  Stratton is a former first round draft pick who remains an enigma.  Snodgrass needs a breakout season.


Tyler Beede-R
Adalberto Mejia-L
Chase Johnson-R
Joe Biagini-R
Matt Lujan-L
Matt Gage-L

I've moved Kyle Crick into the RP category for the time being.  2014 first rounder, Beede, conquered High A ball by midseason, then struggled some at AA.  I think he may have started to fatigue by the end of the season.  He still deserves consideration for top prospect in the system.  Mejia got a late start on the season due to a suspension, but pitched well after returning.  2016 could be a pivotal season for him.  Chase Johnson finally put it all together for a full season and broke out.  He might have the highest ceiling of this group!  Biagini keeps working his way up the ladder and had a fine season.  Matt Gage got sent up from Augusta for a spot start and did so well, he stuck with Richmond the rest of the way.  Lujan missed some time early with an injury.


Jordan Johnson-R
Andrew Suarez-L
Martin Agosta- R
Sam Coonrod- R
Jason Forjet- R
Jose Reyes-R
Christian Jones-L
Nick Vander Tuig-R

Jordan Johnson was another breakout pitcher for the organization.  He started the season late and in rookie ball, but exploded onto the Cal League scene with a mid-90's FB, great command and enough secondary stuff to keep hitters off balance.  Suarez worked his way up after being drafted in the second round to pitch well in the Cal League playoffs.  Agosta had tremendous K and BB numbers but a penchant for giving up the longball.  Sam Coonrod had a breakout season pitching at two levels with a mid-high 90's FB.  Jose Reyes is another hard thrower who was terrific for Augusta then struggled after being promoted to SJ.  His last few starts were encouraging, though.  Forjet seems to pitch well wherever he is assigned.  I'll peg him as a sleeper.  It seemed like the Giants were trying to stretch out Christian Jones into a starter near the end of the 2015 season.  Vander Tuig underwent his second TJ surgery making his future uncertain.


Mark Reyes-L
Michael Santos-R
DJ Snelton- L
Pat Young-R

Reyes seems like finesse lefty.  Santos got a late start, perhaps due to injury, but pitched pretty well while gradually stretching out.  Snelton pitched very well after struggling for SJ.  Pat Young found a floor and will try to work his way back up after struggling for SJ in 2014.


Dominic Mazza-L
Logan Webb-R
Nolan Riggs- R
Grant Watson-L
Andrew Leenhouts-L

Mazza was the forgotten SP at UCSB but had a nice pro debut.  Webb pitched impressively for an 18 year old at this level.  Riggs is a tall dude who found some traction.  Watson pitched great for Rookie AZL but struggled in S-K.  He was drafted as a college senior out of UCLA.  Leenhouts just got elected Mayor of Keizer, OR(just joking).


Phil Bickford-R
Deiyerbert Bolivar-L
Mac Marshall-L
Nick Gonzalez-L

Bickford was the Giants 2015 First Round Draft Pick.  He was spectacular in Arizona, but remember this is a rookie league.  Bolivar is an undersized lefty who pitches like he has big stuff.  Marshall was drafted out of JC ball after being caught up in the Brady Aiken fiasco in Houston.  He had mixed results in his pro debut.  Nick Gonzalez has been around awhile and needs to find some traction to his career.


Victor Concepcion-R
Melvin Adon-R
Sandro Cabrera-L
Prebito Reyes-L

Adon and Cabrera were older international signees, but pitched well and the Giants think highly enough of them to bring them to fall instructional league in Arizona.  Concepcion has numbers of a top prospect, but this was his second rodeo in the DSL.  I did not see his name on the instructional league roster, but hope to see him in Arizona in 2016.  Reyes may not have quite enough stuff to get off the island, judging by his DSL numbers.

There you have it.  The Giants may not have any future Madison Bumgarners or Tim Lincecums here, but the system is deep in quality starting pitching with dramatic improvement in 2015.


  1. Imagine the depth with Mella and Ysla still in the system. Looking at this list, what stands out is the Giants dedication to bringing lefties into the fold. Plenty of trade bait for 2nd tier fill in vets. If Santos can stay healthy, I think he might be the top zoom zoom candidate here. But between Beede/Bickford as the blue chips and Johnson/Coonrod as the hard throwing sleepers, there is a ton to like, we have to remember the Giants are doing this from poor draft position.

  2. I do not see anybody who could push Bumgarner to the #2 role on this list but that is not necessarily a bad thing. There is a wealth of #2 and #3 ceiling pitchers and a couple that could have a #1 ceiling. Some might be trade chips to get young cost controlled pitching in return. Some might just end up on the MLB roster in a few years. The bottom line is that we have talent at just about every level.

    It remains to be seen what the Giants will do in the off season. My opinion is that the Giants should aim for Greinke. If that does not work out then immediately sign Leake as a backup. Also, I believe the Giants should make a trade for a young cost controlled arm for the second vacancy in the rotation. DrB listed Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco and I totally agree with either. Either way the Giants go it should leave a few holes for 2017 and 2018 with Peavy and Cain leaving respectively. Hopefully these holes can be filled internally. Also, injuries are a part of the game and one of them can force the hand of the Giants in that case. My point is that even if we sign 2 starting pitchers we will still have room for internal options in the next 2 years.

  3. Thanks, Doc. Blackburn has pitched well at every level, including the hitter havens which are the Cal League and the PCL. His strong finish at Sacto after a slow start coming off shoulder soreness suggest he may not have much more to prove at AAA. I could see him capably holding down a back end rotation spot in the bigs.

    So the rotation could look like:
    #1 Bummy
    #2 Top tier FA starter
    #3 Peavy
    #4 Cain
    #5 Blackburn
    #6 Heston (swingman)

    Or if they sign 2 Tier Two FA starters rather than 1 Tier One starter:
    #1 Bummy
    #2 Tier Two FA starter
    #3 Tier Two FA starter
    #4 Peavy
    #5 Cain
    #6 Blackburn/Heston (big league swingman/minor league depth)

    In the first scenario, the #2 starter would be more of a #1a to Bummy, and having two anchors, along with a strong bullpen, can take a team a long way in the postseason. In the second scenario, the increased depth would help over the course of the season, keeping the all the arms fresher for the postseason. I'm torn over which scenario I would rather see play out.

    1. Unless there is a rash of injuries they are not going to put Blackburn in the rotation on Opening Day. That is not their MO. They will try to fill the roster with proven starters and if one of them gets injured in ST then and only then will Blackburn get the nod. If anything he would be a mid to late season call up. Bumgarner did not get the nod until June 26th in 2010 and that was after 4 appearances at the end 2009. Blackburn has not even thrown one pitch in the big leagues. He could be the reincarnation of Christy Mathewson and it still isn't happening.

    2. If the Giants strike out like last years FA pitching attempt to sign a wealthy pitcher happens again, I think we will see a lot more young'uns in spring training. Cain had that pretty decent last start and that didn't come with guarantees. Things could be real bad, but I don't understand the lack of giving Blackburn a call up instead of a Broadway?

    3. Bobby Evans addressed the Blackburn thing. The Giants felt he had put in a big workload and finished the AAA season on a high note and wanted him to carry that thought through the winter. Same reason why they pulled him from the AFL. Don't know if that is right or wrong, but at least they are very aware of him and have a plan. Evans also gushed about Blackburn at the postseason presser giving the beat writers the impression that Clayton has a lot of big fans within the organization.

  4. In 2009 I watched MadBum's MiLB pre game workout on his non-pitching days. Years later I watched his MLB pre game exercise at Dodger Stadium and nothing had changed. I am not talking about the pitching part, I am talk some heavy conditional and stamina stuff. Sometimes it sure looks like these guys are burnt out by September. Conditioning and stamina is as important in October as in spring training and I am not just referring to rookies...
    Doc, this website is gold!

    1. Thanks for sharing that, I figured that he's been a monster in doing that, but good to hear confirmation.

      This reminds me of a quote from him at around the same time. He noted that one of the things he noticed when he reached the majors was that pitchers threw a lot less than he did between starts and that he would curtail his activities (implying a mid solution, not copying the major leaguers) in order to save strength later in the season. I've always wondered if he followed up on what he said he would do, and how much did he really curtail, and what the regular major leaguer throws between starts.

  5. I'm kind of waiting to see what they do in FA. Not only are we looking for at least one pitcher, we've got to hope for Cain's resurgence or plan for his failure. So, it's just too uncertain for me to go beyond acknowledging that we have a very interesting pitching situation.