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San Francisco Giants Top 20 2014 PRE-SEASON Prospects in Review

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A system deep in pitching had several arms waylaid with physical problems this year, though infielder Joe Panik and catcher Andrew Susac looked strong in big league action.

Joe Panik
Joe Panik
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Moving forward with our organization reviews, this afternoon we examine the San Francisco Giants system. Remember, this is the PRE-SEASON LIST. This is not a new list. These are pre-season rankings and grades. This is a general review of 2014, not a detailed preview for 2015.

This list was originally published December 28, 2013.

1) Kyle Crick, RHP, Grade A-: Borderline B+. Age 21, posted 3.79 ERA with 111/61 K/BB in 90 innings for Double-A Richmond, 78 hits. Outstanding K/IP ratios and low hit rate continue to stand out, as does poor control. I still think he will put it together but not everyone agrees.

2) Edwin Escobar, LHP, Grade B+: Borderline B. Age 22, traded to Boston Red Sox, posted 4.94 ERA with 116/45 K/BB in 138 innings between Triple-A Fresno and Pawtucket, 161 hits. Stock down a little but still has intriguing strike-throwing ability.

3) Andrew Susac, C, Grade B: Age 24, hit .268/.379/.451 with 10 homers, 34 walks, 50 strikeouts in 213 at-bats for Fresno, .254/.312/.465 in 71 at-bats in the majors. I like him, has power, defense, should continue to improve.

4) Adalberto Mejia, LHP, Grade B: Age 21, posted 4.67 ERA with 82/31 K/BB in 108 innings for Richmond, 119 hits. Not a great year overall, although he finished strong.

5) Christian Arroyo, SS, Grade B: Age 19, overmatched for Augusta in the Low-A Sally League (.203/.226/.271 in 118 at-bats) but was more effective after going down to Salem-Keizer in the Northwest League (.333/.378/.469 in 243 at-bats). Will try again at Augusta next year.

6) Clayton Blackburn, RHP, Grade B: Age 21, 3.29 ERA with 85/20 K/BB in 93 innings for Richmond, 94 hits. Pitched well in Double-A transition, only glitch was a rib injury that cost him several weeks.

7) Chris Stratton, RHP, Grade B: Borderline B-. Age 24, posted 5.07 ERA with 102/36 K/BB in 99 innings for High-A San Jose, then 3.52 ERA with 18/12 K/BB in 23 innings for Richmond. He hasn't lived up to his draft status, but I still think he can be an inning-eater of some value.

8) Heath Hembree, RHP, Grade B-: Age 25, traded to Red Sox, 3.72 ERA with 55/18 K/BB in 46 innings for Fresno and Pawtucket, 24 saves. Nothing left to prove in the minors, should be a competent relief pitcher with a chance to close eventually.

9) Mac Williamson, OF, Grade B-: Hit .318/.420/.506 in 85 at-bats for San Jose until shut down for elbow surgery. Age 24, not great timing for a lost season (but then, is there ever?)

10) Ty Blach, LHP, Grade B-: Age 23, posted 3.13 ERA with 91/39 K/BB in 141 innings for Richmond, 142 hits. Another guy who could be a useful fourth starter due to his control.

11) Martin Agosta, RHP, Grade B-: Age 23, command collapsed at San Jose, 9.23 ERA with 25/34 K/BB in 39 innings, 51 hits. Spent much of the year on the disabled list with a vague injury to work on his mechanics, came back in August but remained ineffective. Status unclear.

12) Joan Gregorio, RHP, Grade C+: Age 22, 3.57 ERA with 65/27 K/BB in 68 innings for Augusta, 6.75 ERA with 27/13 K/BB in 23 innings for San Jose. Already had Low-A success last year so the problems at San Jose were disappointing but he is still young enough to blossom.

13) Joe Panik, 2B-SS, Grade C+: Age 23, hit .321/.382/.447 with five homers, 27 walks, 33 strikeouts in 293 at-bats for Fresno, then .298/.340/.368 in 242 at-bats for the Giants. I expect him to have a long career at least as a utility player but it is possible that he can continue to hit .280-.300 with reasonable on-base skills and defense, which would make him a regular.

14) Keury Mella, RHP, Grade C+: Age 21, solid year statistically with 1.83 ERA, 20/6 K/BB in 20 innings for Salem-Keizer and 3.93 ERA, 63/13 K/BB in 66 innings for Augusta. Caveat: he missed two months with a sore rotator cuff, though late-year rehab outings with SK went well.

15) Derek Law, RHP, Grade C+: Age 24, posted 2.57 ERA with 29/14 K/BB in 28 innings for Richmond, 19 hits, 14 saves. Didn't pitch after early June due to "elbow tightness" which required Tommy John surgery.

16) Gary Brown, OF, Grade C+: Age 25, hit .271/.329/.394 with 10 homers, 36 steals, 36 walks, 119 strikeouts in 536 at-bats for Fresno. Given age and continued issues with zone judgment he looks more like a fourth outfielder than a potential regular at this point.

17) Josh Osich, LHP, Grade C+: Age 26, 3.78 ERA with 27/20 K/BB in 33 innings for Richmond. Missed much of season with back and hamstring injuries and was having command troubles when healthy.

18) Kendry Flores, RHP, Grade C+: Age 22, solid year for San Jose (4.09 ERA, 112/32 K/BB in 106 innings, 101 hits) before going on disabled list in early August.

19) Adam Duvall, 3B, Grade C+: Age 26, hit .298/.360/.599 with 27 homers, 30 walks, 82 strikeouts in 359 at-bats for Fresno, .183/.227/.296 with two homers, three walks, 20 strikeouts in 71 at-bats for the Giants. Nothing left to prove in the minors.

20) Ryder Jones, 3B, Grade C+: Age 20, disappointing season from 2013 second round pick, hit .220/.272/.339 with 18 walks, 93 strikeouts in 369 at-bats for Augusta, .243/.293/.393 in 107 at-bats for Salem-Keizer. Bat not as polished as expected.

The main rookie contribution for the second place Giants this year came from infielder Joe Panik, with catching prospect Andrew Susac also looking good in limited playing time. There was little freshman room on a veteran-oriented pitching staff, though rookie relievers Erik Cordier, Hunter Strickland, Chris Heston, and Brett Bochy should all be in the mix for next season.

Pitching was the strength of the system pre-season, though there were quite a few injuries this year that tested this depth. There are more arms on the way who can slot in for those who fail, including impressive southpaw reliever Steve Okert, 22 year old southpaw Luis Ysla (2.45 ERA, 115/45 K/BB in 121 innings for Augusta) and 2014 first-round draft pick Tyler Beede out of Vanderbilt.

451178918Tyler Beede, photo by Peter Aiken, Getty Images

More depth in hitting would be helpful. I like Susac a lot and I don't think Panik is a complete fluke, but the system could use more firepower. Catcher Aramis Garcia from the 2014 draft struggled in his debut, while Ryder Jones and Christian Arroyo from the '13 class are obviously going to need more time. Matt Duffy and Gary Brown could have some use as role players but aren't going to hit enough to be regulars in my opinion.

The Giants ranked 18th pre-season on my farm organization lists and will likely still rate in the middle of the pack area right now.