Today we continue our summer reviews of the pre-season Top 20 Prospects lists with the San Francisco Giants.
This is a review of the pre-season list.
It is not a new list.
These are the pre-season grades.
1) Andrew Susac, C, Grade B+: Hitting .235/.307/.400 in 115 major league at-bats as Buster Posey’s backup. It seems like something of a waste to use him in this role and he could be a regular for many teams, but none of those teams have Buster Posey.
2) Kyle Crick, RHP, Grade B+/B: 2.91 ERA with 69/61 K/BB in 59 innings in Double-A, 43 hits. ERA is really fluky given how terrible his control has been (the FIP is 4.74). Looks more comfortable in relief and the stuff remains impressive, but hasn’t made enough progress with command to hold this grade for 2016.
3) Keury Mella, RHP, Grade B/B+: 3.38 ERA with 93/34 K/BB in 91 innings in High-A, 71 hits. Traded to Cincinnati Reds in Mike Leake deal. Holding status as a solid prospect with number three potential.
4) Tyler Beede, RHP, Grade B/B+: Impressive in High-A (2.24, 37/9 in 52) but command has slipped in Double-A (4.72, 40/30 in 61). Still love the upside and I think he will adjust. But I thought the same about Crick.
5) Clayton Blackburn, RHP, Grade B: Continues to defy skeptics with solid season in Pacific Coast League: 3.28 ERA, 77/29 K/BB in 96 innings, 102 hits. Still projects as strike-throwing workhorse.
6) Christian Arroyo, INF, Grade B: A very fine season, hitting .317/.361/.485 with 17 walks, 56 strikeouts in 309 at-bats in High-A at age 20. More walks would be nice but that is nitpicking for a guy who hits like this and can play shortstop well. Stock up to B+ level at least.
7) Mac Williamson, OF, Grade B-: Hitting .283/.369/.432 with nine homers, 43 walks, 88 strikeouts in 382 at-bats between Double-A and Triple-A. Not as much home run power as we’d hoped but production solid overall.
8) Ty Blach, LHP, Grade B-: Command pitcher holding his own in Triple-A, 4.21 ERA with 87/24 K/BB in 148 innings, 167 hits. Not a great year but a durable strike-thrower who could be a back-end starter.
9) Adalberto Mejia, LHP, Grade C+/B-: 2.58 ERA with 28/17 K/BB in 45 innings in Double-A. Drop in K-rate worrisome, drug suspension than injury hampering his development.
10) Steven Okert, LHP, Grade C+/B-: 3.76 ERA with 61/24 K/BB in 53 innings in Triple-A, 52 hits. Looking for a bullpen trial run.
11) Hunter Strickland, RHP, Grade C+/B-: Highly-effective in major league pen, 1.75 ERA with 40/8 K/BB in 36 innings, 24 hits for the Giants.
12) Daniel Carbonell, OF, Grade C+: Couldn’t hit in Double-A (.146/.173/.194 in 206 at-bats) and only somewhat better in High-A (.269/.325/.396). 17 steals are nice, but 14/83 combined BB/K is hardly adequate and his power has been disappointing.
13) Matt Duffy, INF, Grade C+: Outstanding rookie season, hitting .305/.342/.466 with 10 homers, 18 walks, 68 strikeouts in 393 at-bats. I was among the optimists with Duffy and thought he could hit for average but I did not expect this much power.
14) Luis Ysla, LHP, Grade C+: Ugly 6.46 ERA in High-A, 83/38 K/BB in 71 innings, 102 hits. Still has a good strikeout rate but hard to spin this as anything but a grave disappointment.
15) Joan Gregorio, RHP, Grade C+: 3.36 ERA with 60/24 K/BB in 62 innings in Double-A, 45 hits. Particularly effective after moving into starting rotation last month, 2.22 ERA with 22/8 K/BB in 24 innings over six starts.
16) Aramis Garcia, C, Grade C+: Hitting .269/.345/.446 with 15 homers, 38 walks, 88 strikeouts in 350 at-bats between Low-A and High-A. Seems solid enough with the glove and has power, good guy to have coming up behind Posey and Susac.
17) Ray Black, RHP, Grade C+: Limited innings in High-A, 2.84 ERA with 39/18 K/BB in 19 innings, nine hits. Walk rate is too high for that ERA to stick at higher levels.
18) Michael Santos, RHP, Grade C+: 2.55 ERA with 13/6 K/BB in 25 innings in Low-A. Sample too small to be meaningful for this projectable 20-year-old.
19) Chris Stratton, RHP, Grade C+: 3.92 ERA with 96/56 K/BB in 131 innings, 109 hits between Double-A and Triple-A. Has held his own in PCL; hasn’t lived up to first-round pedigree but could still be useful fifth starter or relief arm.
20) Adam Duvall, INF, Grade C+: Traded to Reds in Mike Leake deal. Hitting .265/.310/.526 with 30 homers, 27 walks, 105 strikeouts in 464 at-bats in Triple-A. He won’t provide much OBP but the power is real.
Chris Heston was rated as a Grade C pre-season, but with the following notation in the November article:
There is a mixture of physical upside arms and pitchability talents who could surprise, finesse right-hander Chris Heston being a good example of the latter. If you are looking for a pitcher who could pull a Matt Shoemaker-like out-of-nowhere season in 2015, Heston is as good a candidate as anyone.
That panned out pretty well: 11-7, 3.34, 3.61 FIP with a 110/48 K/BB in 146 innings, 129 hits, 108 ERA+. Shoemaker’s 2014 was 16-4, 3.04 ERA, 3.26 FIP with a 124/24 K/BB in 136 innings, 122 hits, 118 ERA+. Not quite the same, but close enough. My guess is that Heston will backslide some in 2016, as Shoemaker as done, although hopefully not to the same extent.
Overall the Giants system continues their steady production of solid players, with Heston and fellow surprise rookie Matt Duffy the big contributors here. The farm system enabled the trade for Mike Leake, Andrew Susac is a great asset, and lefty Josh Osich could take a larger role next year. RHP Sam Coonrod has performed well in Low-A and could advance more rapidly in 2016. Infielder Austin Slater hopes to be the Matt Duffy of 2017.
The 2015 draft adds college premium talents RHP Phil Bickford, 1B Chris Shaw, and LHP Andrew Suarez, all three capable of moving through the farm system at an accelerated pace. Jalen Miller and LHP Mac Marshall have upside but will need more time. Keep an eye on 3B Jose Vizcaino Jr, who has turned heads with strong hitting in the Northwest League.
Overall, this is a productive organization that remains that way. The word "solid" gets used a lot when discussing the Giants, but the word fits.