Thursday, December 22, 2016

DrB's 2017 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #13 Chris Stratton

Chris Stratton, RHP.  DOB:  8/22/1990.  6'3", 190 lbs.  Drafted in 2012, Round 1 out of Mississippi St.

2016 AAA:  12-6, 3.87, 125.2 IP, 39 BB, 103 K.
2016 MLB:  1-0, 3.60, 10 IP, 5 BB, 6 K.
2016 AFL:  2-2, 3.12, 26 IP, 5 BB, 21 K.

The Giants drafted a guy named Chris Stratton in 2012 who had videos on the internet of 96 MPH fastballs and 12-6 curveballs.  The Chris Stratton who showed up in the Giants minor league system was not that guy.  The Giants prospect Chris Stratton had a 90-92 MPH 2-seamer and a balky slider.  Nevertheless, he gradually and painfully worked his way up the Giants minor league system, often getting hit hard along the way.  Over the past year, the guy from the scouting videos has re-emerged, at least if you squint hard enough.  He put together a pretty good season for AAA Sacramento.  In a short stint with the Giants, he flashed a 94 MPH FB out of the bullpen.  He went to the AFL in the fall and reportedly touched 96 with the FB a few times.

So, Stratton has a bit of momentum behind him as he enters the 2017 season.  He will come to spring training, possibly as high as #3 on the depth chart for the #5 starter role and #2 or 3 for the final bullpen slot.  He will most likely start the season back in Sacramento and hopefully be ready to step in wherever and whenever the Giants need him.


  1. If Chris Stratton can metamorphosize at 26 in Sacramento, why can't Gregorio?
    With great trepidation, Doc, I don't see the rainbow you do: having watched Stratton struggle for so long, I reserve judgement. Trust but verify.
    As for Stratton's cup of coffee with the Giants last year, in 10 innings he gave up 11 hits and 5 walks with 6 K's -- not exactly encouraging, is it?

    1. Rainbow? I don't see any rainbow either. Not sure where you got the idea I do.

      "He will most likely start the season back in Sacramento and HOPEFULLY be ready to step in wherever and whenever the Giants need him." Again, not sure where you see the rainbow in THAT!

  2. Interesting analysis - my compliments. However, whist I realize, DrB, that there is only so much space to include everything in your report, I will humbly offer to add a few things about Chris Stratton that we may wish keep in mind...

    - Tall and lean through much of his High School years, he was a late bloomer at Mississippi St., not becoming the "Friday Night" starter until his Senior year. However, as a Senior, he was a consensus All-American after going 11–2 with a 2.38 earned run average and 127 strikeouts in 109 innings. He was the 2012 SEC Pitcher of the Year that year, beating out LSU's Kevin Gausman (now with BAL), Georgia's Alex Wood (now with LAD, by way of ATL), Kentucky's Taylor Rogers (now with MIN), and Alabama's Ian Gardeck (now with our own SFG) for that honor.

    - He was personally scouted by Brian Sabean that year, and taken by the Giants with pick #20 in Round 1. I know, Corey Seager went to the Dodgers at #18 and Michael Wacha went to the Cardinals at #19 - but hey, if Seager dropped to the Giants, there may be no Brandon Crawford. And If Wacha went to the Giants, what would have become of Travis and the "The Giants win the Pennant! The Giants win the Pennant! The Giants win the Pennant!" over the Cardinals in 2014?

    - Most importantly, the Giants took Stratton in June of 2012. Scarcely 2 months later, Stratton was struck in the temple with a line drive while standing near second base during batting practice resulting in a severe concussion, requiring hospitalization, and with after-effects lingering into 2013.

    - Stratton has seen a promotion in each year he has been in the Giants organization (and often seen increased workload also) since 2013: 132IP in Augusta in 2013. 122IP between San Jose and Richmond in 2014. 148IP between Richmond and Sacramento in 2015. 125IP in Sacramento and a cup of coffee with the Giants in 2016.

    - Concussion aside, he has been remarkable injury free as a Giant.

    - His velo - never that poor - has been creeping up lately. I saw 94 in a game against the Dodgers this season, and he has touched 96 several times in the AFL this fall.

    History shows there have been more than one late bloomers as pitchers. Dazzy Vance had a HOF career with 197 wins, a 3.24 ERA and 2,045 strikeouts, despite not winning his first MLB game until age 31. Randy Johnson had a 56-61 record entering his age 29 season. Nolan Ryan had a 29-38 record during his initial six years with the NY Mets. Remember Jason Grilli? He was a first round draft pick, fourth pick overall(!), of the 1997 Major League Baseball draft. By the Giants. After leaving the Giants, he took a while to make his mark. Grilli pitched a grand total of 33.1 innings in the show before his age 27 season (and over 600 as a reliever since then). Sometimes, things break late for a guy. Sometimes, they don't break at all.

    I would not be surprised if Stratton was in the mix for #5 starter if the Giants decide that Matt Cain is through and Ty Blach (or Tyler Beede) is not ready.

    1. There are some things about Stratton to be encouraged about and other's that should make you cautious.

    2. I've wondered at some of those promotions. Promoted from San Jose with a 5.07 ERA... Promoted from Richmond with a 4.14... Those are generally numbers that correlate with 'promotion.'

      But the funny thing is when he got those promotions, his ERA went down each time:

      2014 A+ - 5.07 to AA - 3.52
      2015 AA - 4.14 to AAA - 3.86
      2016 AAA - 3.87 to MLB - 3.60 (Yeah, I know, 10 innings).

      It's the strangest thing...

  3. Every now and then I get a little bit of 'cautiously optimistic' when it comes to Stratton. And that's where I am right now. His PCL ERA since his 2015 promotion has been 3.86/3.87. He's improved his WHIP. He's regained most, if not all, the velocity he lost (depending on what I read at least). His K/BB ratio really improved last year. He didn't crap the bed when he came up last year (yeah, I know, it was just 10 innings, but it wasn't Mike Kickham either!).

    So I'm hoping can improve enough this year that he has a realistic shot at competing for the #5 slot and, at the worst, be a solid back-up plan in case someone gets hurt.