Tuesday, December 13, 2016

DrB's 2017 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #4 Ty Blach

Ty Blach, LHP.  DOB:  10/20/1990.  6'2", 200 lbs.  Drafted in 2012 Round 5.

2016  AAA:  14-7, 3.43, 162.2 IP, 2.10 BB/9, 6.25 K/9, GO/AO= 1.22.
2016  MLB:  1-0, 1.06, 17 IP, 5 BB, 10 K, GO/AO= 1.79.

Ty Blach is ranked this high because of proximity to the majors and what looks like an unusually high floor.  Blach is a pitch-to-contact lefty who has steadily worked his way up the organization ladder.  He appeared to have hit his ceiling in 2015 when his ERA jumped from 2.90 in High A(2013) and 3.13 in AA(2014) to 4.46 in AAA.  Looking at his relatively low K rates it was easy to write him off as a future AAAA pitcher.  Entering 2016, he was well behind Christ Heston, Clayton Blackburn and even Chris Stratton on the Giants depth charts.  By the end of the season, he was at the top of that heap, challenging for the 5'th starter role in San Francisco.

He came up for a September cup-of-coffee and just kept getting MLB hitters out, culminating in 8 innings of shutout ball against the Dodgers on October 1.  That kind of performance against the Dodgers in October will tend to get you noticed and remembered!  Ty went on to pitch 3.1 scoreless innings in the NLDS against the mighty Cubs.

The odds are against him sustaining that success when his K rates are so low, but Blach may just have an ability to consistently induce weak contact.  He's got at least a 5 pitch mix and can command all of them with at least average success.  His FB, which he throws 4 seam about 40% and 2-seam 60% averages 91.8 MPH, ranging 90-94.  He is able to command the inside corner to RH batters and the outside corner to LH batters.  He mixes in a slider, curveball and changeup.  The only negative pitch on Pitch Fx was an offering classified as a sinker/split which he rarely threw.  He has a strong groundball tendency which should play better in the majors than the PCL.

In summary, Blach appears to be able to make up for the relative lack of K's with above average command of multiple pitches inducing weak contact, a low walk rate and a strong GB tendency.

Matt Cain is probably first in line for the 2017 5'th starter role, due to his seniority and the size of his contract.  Blach is the first alternative and will challenge him in spring training.  Although he can get RH batters out well enough to be a SP, he also is very tough on LH batters posting a .189/.236/.244 slash line against them in 2016.  If he does not make it as a SP, he might actually be the best lefty specialist prospect in the system which seems to be his absolute floor.  It seems likely that he will play in important role for the Giants in 2017 whether it be as the #5 SP, the swingman or a lefty reliever.


  1. Your right that Cain will probably get a fair shot, but I think he may be done. I hope I'm wrong. I like Blach, and think he can have some really good success in the majors. This might sound cliché, but most batters are used to hurlers not actually pitchers. Blach sort off reminds me of how a lot of players pitched prior to everyone trying to be Nolan Ryan. Could be wrong. Just how I look at him.

  2. Steamer and Depth Charts project Blach as a 3.86 ERA pitcher in the big leagues. That'd put him around Tillman, Samardzija, Hammel and a few other pretty good, full-season qualifier pitchers and he'd rank 36th, one place behind Samardzija, in the MLB in ERA. So here's hoping for the best!

    As for Cain, I really have my doubts he takes the spot even though I think he'll get a fair shot as it's about winning this year, not what you did in 2012.

  3. When teams push players with high contracts up in the pecking order because they have a high contract, I wonder if they've ever heard of "sunk cost."
    IMO, Cain deserves a shot, not because he has a big contract -- the Giants owe him whether he pitches or not but a roster spot is worth something if he can't -- but because he has DONE it before, he had glimpses of effectiveness last year, he is fresh now, and he is a gritty competitor.
    That said, if he isn't healthy and ready this Spring, the Giants should bite the bullet and open up his spot.

  4. Doc B, spot on in describing Blach's pitch repertoire and stats analysis. But the thing that most impressed me is his makeup. His calm bulldog tenacity and guts as a rookie facing Kershaw and shutting down the Bums for 8 innings in a must win game was stunning. Backing that up against the Cubs in the NLDS as an multi-inning stopper was equally impressive.

    The kid seems to have the ability to pitch his best in big games. While his stuff is not swing and miss, I rate his compete level and mental makeup as very high. That and a solid five-pitch repertoire may be all it takes to have a successful, long-term #5 starter for the Giants.

    1. Good points to remember, those impressed the heck out of me too, particularly the contrast between his facing down the Dodgers and Solomon long ago.

      I've never been that big on him because of his inability to strike out many, but guys like him basically you can't count them out until they falter. We'll all see the Giants prospects like him who hit the ceiling at AA, AAA, then majors, but every once in a while you run into a guy like Blach who just keep on keeping on in the majors.

      Then again, just two years ago, that someone was Heston, so sometimes success is fleeting. But like a lot of people here, I have a good feeling about him too, and will be watching with anticipation with how he pitches in spring.

      I still think Cainer has the stuff to get back to his prior goodness, though, and was on his way back when his hamstring went. It should be better for him this season as he'll have a full winter of rest and back to his regular preparation routine. And he likes a little competition to rile him up some. Whether it's Cain or Blach, I feel good about the #5 spot in 2017, it could be our best rotation of this golden era if things roll our way this season.

    2. I agree, OGC. Cain was looking closer to his old self when the hammy hit him. Velocity was trending up. I hope he can put it together.

  5. The Giants have strongly implied that Cain will be on a short leash. There have even been hints that Blach may be ahead of him on the depth chart, so it would not be a shocker if Blach won the #5 SP spot out of spring training.

    I don't think the Giants will put Cain out there to get bombed just because of the size of his contract, but it will get him a fair shot to win a SP job back or prove he can't get it done.

    1. Yeah, I recall an Evans quote soon after the season ended that Blach is being treated as the incumbent, with Cain working to win that spot.

      And the Giants have not been one to let a big contract (Rowand, Zito, Huff, Tejada, McGehee) stand in the way of a better performing player, so I have trust that if Cain is not delivering, he will be eventually sent on this way. That said, given his great performances in the past, and the hint that he was starting to return to that before his hamstring issues, I think he will get every chance to win the last rotation spot, and if not that, be the long reliever.

  6. Blach has been a prospect I have been on the high side of for years. Going back to when he had Jimmy Key comparisons his first year in professional ball. Despite him losing some perceived luster after that first year due to strikeout numbers going down, I still saw a pitcher consistently progressing with good ERA's and putting up big inning totals year to year.

    What was shocking to me after his call up last year was how good his stuff looked. Maybe he just doesn't have the spin on his slider or the fade on his change to get a lot of swing and misses. But there's just nothing wrong with a lefty who is sitting 91-92. That's not a soft tosser!

    As a side note - I do not think Cain is in the lead for the #5 spot. It's two years now of ERA's in the high 5's, and it's the last year of his contract. In previous years at least part of the motivation to get him right was to get him back on line to be useful for the last year or two of his deal. That's over now. There's no next year. He's either got it or he doesn't. I think he will technically get a chance to compete but he's going to have to show his stuff and command are better. Blach should have much more of a benefit of the doubt. I also would not be surprised if they move quickly to look at him out of the bullpen.