San Francisco Giants Top 20 prospects for 2016
The list and grades are a blending of present performance and long-term potential. Comments are welcome, but in the end all analysis and responsibility is mine. Full reports on all of players can be found in the 2016 Baseball Prospect Book. We are now taking pre-orders for the book, so order early and order often!
All of these grades are preliminary and subject to change.
QUICK PRIMER ON GRADE MEANINGS
Grade A prospects are the elite. In theory, they have a good chance of becoming stars or superstars. Theoretically, most Grade A prospects develop into stars or at least major league regulars, if injuries or other problems don’t intervene. Note that is a major "if" in some cases.
Grade B prospects have a good chance to enjoy successful careers. Some will develop into stars, some will not. Most end up spending several years in the majors, at the very least in a marginal role.
Grade C prospects are the most common type. These are guys who have something positive going for them, but who may have a question mark or three, or who are just too far away from the majors to get an accurate feel for. A few Grade C guys, especially at the lower levels, do develop into stars. Many end up as role players or bench guys. Some don’t make it at all.
Finally, keep in mind that all grades are shorthand. You have to read the full comment in the book for the full analysis about a player, the letter grade only tells you so much. A Grade C prospect in rookie ball could end up being very impressive, while a Grade C prospect in Triple-A is likely just a future role player.
1) Christian Arroyo, INF, Grade B+: Age 20, hit .304/.344/.459 with nine homers, 19 walks, 73 strikeouts in 381 at-bats in High-A. Really like contact ability, youth relative to league, and pure hitting skills despite low walk rate, should get into low-double-digits in homers. I don’t think his defense is terrible but likely fits best at second in the long run or perhaps third if distance power maximizes.
2) Phil Bickford, RHP, Grade B+/B: Age 20, first round pick from JC of Southern Nevada, posted 2.01 ERA with 32/6 K/BB in 22 innings in rookie ball, just 13 hits. Electric fastball gives high upside, secondary pitches erratic, as can be his command. Risky bet here with bust potential due to uncertain role and incomplete arsenal, but upside is a number two starter or a dominant closer.
3) Clayton Blackburn, RHP, Grade B+/B: Age 23, posted 2.85 ERA to lead Pacific Coast League in ERA, 99/32 K/BB in 123 innings, 127 hits. Ready for a major league trial, continues to outperform expectations, throws four big league pitches for strikes, entire package consistently plays up despite skepticism from some observers. Like Bickford, there is risk here but for opposite reasons. I believe in Blackburn however so am placing the bet down.
4) Tyler Beede, RHP, Grade B-: Age 22, effective in High-A (2.24, 37/9 in 52) but hit hard after moving up to Double-A (5.23, 49/35 in 72) especially late in the season. 2014 first rounder from Vanderbilt has quality arm strength with fastball up to 95 but struggles to locate and command secondary pitches. Number three starter if it comes together.
5) Sam Coonrod, RHP, Grade B-: Age 23, posted 3.14 ERA with 114/34 K/BB in 112 innings in Low-A, fifth round pick from Southern Illinois in 2014 was erratic in college but has thrived under Giants pitching schema, made good progress refining slider to go with low-to-mid-90s fastball. Need to see at higher levels but another potential number three arm.
6) Chris Shaw, 1B, Grade B-: Age 22, first round pick out of Boston College, hit .287/.360/.551 with 12 homers, 19 walks, 41 strikeouts in 178 at-bats in Northwest League. Huge power from left side, will strike out some but not allergic to walks, defense needs a lot of work to be acceptable. More of an impact bat than Garcia, less positional value.
7) Aramis Garcia, C, Grade B-: Age 23, hit .264/.342/.431 with 15 homers, 44 walks, 99 strikeouts in 394 at-bats between Low-A and High-A, threw out 39 percent of runners. Power is his best attribute, effective as a thrower but receiving skills need more polish, I doubt he hits for high averages at higher levels but could still be a productive regular if the glove improves a bit further.
8) Lucius Fox, INF, Grade B-: Age 18, signed out of Bahamas for $6,000,000, switch-hitter with blazing speed and some gap power, hasn’t played yet. Giants think he can play shortstop, others aren’t so sure, should be leadoff force at top of order depending on how OBP skills evolve. Let’s let him play.
9) Andrew Suarez, LHP, Grade B-: Age 23, second round pick from Miami Hurricanes, posted 1.60 ERA with 37/5 K/BB in 39 innings in pro debut, finishing in California League, excellent pitchability, throws four big league quality pitches for strikes, another potential number three or four starter.
10) Jarrett Parker, OF, Grade C+: Age 27, hit .283/.375/.514 with 23 homers, 20 steals in Triple-A, .347/.407/.755 in 49 major league at-bats. Older prospect but has real tools with power, speed, defense, career slowed by contact issues. Not going to hit .347 in a larger sample but even if he hits .247 the other tools and skills will prove useful.
11) Mac Williamson, OF, Grade C+: Age 25, hit .275/.368/.433 with 13 homers, 51 walks, 108 strikeouts in 448 at-bats between Double-A and Triple-A. Power is best tool, not as athletic overall as Parker but two years younger, also has a chance to be an efficient role player.
12) Adalberto Mejia, LHP, Grade C+: Age 22, posted 2.45 ERA with 38/18 K/BB in 51 innings in Double-A, season cut in half by PED suspension then a sore shoulder. Some see him as mid-rotation starter with fastball, change-up, slider, but I think he is more of a bullpen asset in the long run.
13) Steven Okert, LHP, Grade C+: Age 24, posted 3.82 ERA with 69/29 K/BB in 61 innings in Triple-A, should get bullpen trial sometime in 2016, can hit mid-90s with good slider, very tough on lefties, good LOOGY at least but has stuff to work against right-handers as well if the command is there.
14) Michael Santos, RHP, Grade C+: Age 20, posted 3.44 ERA with 23/10 K/BB in 37 innings in Sally League, thin and lanky at 6-4, 170, already throws in low-90s and could gain more, curve and change also profile well but need development. Yet another possible mid-rotation arm.
15) Kyle Crick, RHP, Grade C+: Age 23, posted 3.29 ERA with 73/66 K/BB in 63 innings in Double-A, 47 hits. I have been very optimistic about him in the past but I think I was wrong. Command is getting worse, not better, and conversion to relief didn’t help. Still have to respect nasty stuff but a walk per inning won’t cut it.
16) Austin Slater, 2B, Grade C+: Age 23, Stanford product drafted in eighth round in 2014, hit .294/.334/.381 on the season and finished well in Double-A, line drive hitter with gap power and good contact ability. Doesn’t look like a second baseman at 6-2, 215, but held his own there after conversion from outfield.
17) Ty Blach, LHP, Grade C+: Age 25, posted 4.46 ERA with 93/31 K/BB in 165 innings in Triple-A, gave up 189 hits and 16 homers but I think he can improve that, throws strikes with 90 MPH fastball, solid-average curve, slider, change-up.
18) Joan Gregorio, RHP, Grade C+: Age 24, posted 3.09 ERA with 72/32 K/BB in 79 innings as starter/reliever in Double-A, low/mid-90s fastball with effective slider, off-speed stuff and command still questionable and has fought nagging injuries. Most likely a reliever long-term.
19) Chase Johnson, RHP, Grade C+: Age 24, posted 2.82 ERA with 129/42 K/BB in 125 innings between High-A and Double-A, throws strikes with 90-95 MPH fastball, slider and change-up coming along but needs more development, converted college reliever from Cal Poly has done well with switch to starting.
20) Hunter Cole, OF, Grade C+: Age 23, hit .301/.358/.474 with nine homers, 38 walks, 100 strikeouts in 449 at-bats at three levels, finishing in Double-A, 26th round pick in 2014 from University of Georgia exceeded expectations, doesn’t have complete toolset like Parker or big raw power like Williamson.
OTHER GRADE C+: C.J. Hinojosa, INF; Jordan Johnson, RHP; Jalen Miller, SS; Chris Stratton, RHP; Jose Vizcaino Jr, 3B
OTHERS OF NOTE: Ray Black, RHP; Steve Duggar, OF; Johneshwy Fargas, OF; Ian Gardeck, RHP; Ronnie Jebavay, OF; Derek Law, RHP; Mac Marshall, LHP; Jake Smith, RHP; D.J. Snelten, LHP; Grant Watson, LHP
I like this system. While more top-flight prospects would be useful, the Giants have a ton of B-/C+ depth and a proven track record for getting the most out of those kinds of players and helping them exceed expectations. It has been going on for years, the result of design, not luck.