San Francisco Giants Top 20 Prospects for 2017
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. All of these grades are subject to change as the winter progresses. The final grades will be finished sometime in February when all 30 teams are complete.
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. 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+/B: Age 21, first round pick in 2013; hit .274/.316/.373 with 36 doubles, three homers, 29 walks, 72 strikeouts in 474 at-bats in Double-A; draws constant praise for swing mechanics, doubles power, and general heady play; hit .315/.348/.438 on the road last year, just .224/.278/.294 in difficult home park; long-term should be a .280ish hitter with doubles power; aggressive and could stand to draw more walks but he makes hard contact on pitches other hitters miss; arm and range fit better at third base than shortstop, has also played well in limited looks at second base; ETA 2018.
2) Tyler Beede, RHP, Grade B/B+: Age 23, first round pick in 2014 out of Vanderbilt; 2.81 ERA with 135/53 K/BB in 147 innings in Double-A, 136 hits; fastball can hit 96-97 but is more commonly in low-90s, though command of the pitch has improved; has also developed very good change-up; curveball varies between below average and plus depending on the day, also has a fairly good cutter; command and control remain inconsistent but he can dominate when he’s on; needs a year of Triple-A; benefitted from friendly home park last year, more of a future inning-eater than rotation anchor; ETA late 2017.
3) Bryan Reynolds, OF, Grade B-/B: Age 21, second round pick in 2016 out of Vanderbilt, hit .313/.363/.484 between Northwest League and Low-A, 14 walks, 61 strikeouts in 217 at-bats; only below-average tool is arm strength; features above-average speed and at least average raw power; drew walks in college but was more aggressive in pro ball; whiff rate is of concern but broad base of tools and skills means the Giants will be as patient as possible while he adapts; could be multi-category contributor. ETA: 2020.
4) Ty Blach, LHP, Grade B-/B: Age 26, posted 3.43 ERA with 113/38 K/BB in 163 innings in Triple-A, 147 hits; 1.06 ERA in 17 major league innings with 10/5 K/BB; fifth round pick in 2012 from Creighton University in Omaha; velocity has picked up a hair since college and sits in low-90s now, mixes in slider, change-up, curve; stuff similar to Andrew Suarez and overall approach is comparable though I think Blach throws slightly harder; Blach is two years older but has a better track record of durability. ETA 2017.
5) Andrew Suarez, LHP, Grade B-/B: Age 24, 3.63 ERA with 124/29 K/BB in 144 innings between High-A and Double-A, 154 hits allowed; ultra-polished lefty with 88-94 MPH fastball, solid slider and change-up, throws strikes, excellent pitching instincts and mound presence; second round pick in 2015 from University of Miami; main risk is concern about his durability given history of labrum/shoulder issues; fourth starter projection. ETA 2018.
6) Steven Okert, LHP, Grade B-: Age 25, fourth round pick in 2012 from University of Oklahoma; 3.80 ERA with 60/11 K/BB in 47 innings in Triple-A; 3.21 ERA in 14 major league innings with 14/4 K/BB; what he did in the majors is representative of his ability; fastball up to 96, mixes in slider, cutter; below-average change-up keeps him in bullpen; ranking relievers as prospects is problematic but Okert should be a valued pen member for a long time. ETA 2017.
7) Joan Gregorio, RHP, Grade B-: Age 24, posted 4.69 ERA with 152/49 K/BB in 134 innings between Double-A and Triple-A, 127 hits; ETA in AAA was 5.28 but K/BB was impressive at 122/43; can be intimidating with 6-7 frame and fastball up to 95 and plus slider; change-up remains weak and while he doesn’t give up a huge number of walks, his command is considered below average due to mechanical inconsistency; probably a reliever long-term. ETA 2017.
8) C.J. Hinojosa, SS, Grade B-: Age 22, 11th round pick in 2015 from University of Texas; hit .274/.348/.393 with nine homers, 56 walks, 89 strikeouts in 486 at-bats between High-A and Double-A; good plate discipline, could be steady .260 hitter with good OBP as he moves up and can surprise you with his pop; very good defensive shortstop in my opinion although some feel his tools are stretched there; instincts are excellent; young for a college guy; don’t underestimate him. Doesn’t rank this highly on other lists but I’m playing a hunch. ETA 2018.
9) Chris Shaw, 1B, Grade B-: Age 23, first round pick in 2015 from Boston College; hit .267/.335/.484 with 38 doubles, 21 homers, 48 walks, 125 strikeouts in 502 at-bats between High-A and Double-A; note large number of doubles to go with the homers; 60-65 raw power and he gets to it more often than not; strikeout rate is a caution flag but not horrible, though more walks would be nice; some observers feel his swing is too long for consistent MLB success but that’s not unanimous; good throwing arm but otherwise a mediocre defender with poor range which may limit his chances, at least for an NL team. ETA late 2018
10) Heath Quinn, OF, Grade B-: Age 21, third round pick in 2016 out of Samford; hit .337/.423/571 with nine homers, 26 walks, 50 strikeouts in 205 at-bats in Northwest League, then went 6-for-17 (.353) in four games in High-A; 6-2, 190 pound right-handed hitter with 55-60 grades in raw power and throwing arm along with average running speed; likely to strike out a lot but also draws walks; right field profile and glove may be under-rated; not sure the batting average will hold up but should be productive with OBP and SLG. ETA late 2019.
11) Steven Duggar, OF, Grade B-: Age 23, sixth round pick in 2015 out of Clemson; hit .302/.388/.448 with 28 doubles, 10 homers, 15 steals, 72 walks, 117 strikeouts in 507 at-bats between High-A and Double-A; lefty hitter with patient approach, 60 speed and 60 arm, solid-average raw power; has never quite lived up to expectations generated by his tools but he gets on base and can shoot stuff to the gaps; Giants have a habit of getting the best out of these types of players. ETA 2019.
12) Austin Slater, OF-2B, Grade B-/C+: Age 24, eighth round pick in 2014 out of Stanford; hit .305/.393/.500 with 18 homers, 57 walks, 89 strikeouts in 390 at-bats between Double-A and Triple-A; good track record of hitting going back to college and had no problems adapting to high minors; opinions on tools vary: depending on the source, raw power, speed and arm all rate anywhere between 45 and 55; call it 50s all-around; more instinctive than toolsy; glove average in outfield and at second base but versatility is nice. ETA 2018.
13) Chris Stratton, RHP, Grade C+/B-: Age 26, first round pick in 2012 from Mississippi State, 3.87 ERA in 126 innings in Triple-A, 103/39 K/BB, 120 hits; posted 3.60 ERA in 10 major league innings; long-standing prospect with little left to prove in minors; fastball has steadied at 90-94; has curve, slider, change; all pitches generally average but not weak, it works when his command is sharp; like Blackburn, a potential four/five starter but might show more per-inning dominance if used in bullpen. ETA 2017.
14) Clayton Blackburn, RHP, Grade C+/B-: Age 23; 4.36 ERA in 136 innings in Triple-A, 101/35 K/BB, 142 hits; repeated the league after strong ’15 season but didn’t pitch as well due to tripling of home run rate; fastball is average, out-pitch is a curve which did not appear to be as sharp in ’16 as it was in ’15; can mix in a decent change-up and slider; I have been one of his strongest advocates in the past but it looked to me like his stuff went a bit backwards in ’16, enough to deflate some enthusiasm; he did look sharper late in the year and he shouldn’t be dismissed as a potential fourth/fifth starter. ETA 2017.
15) Aramis Garcia, C, Grade C+: Age 23, second round pick in 2014 from Florida International; hit .257/.323/.340 with two homers, 14 walks, 42 strikeouts in 144 at-bats in High-A, playing time limited by facial fracture suffered in collision; catching skills have improved considerably, threw out 42% of runners and sharpened his receiving; bat went backwards however; hit 15 homers in Low-A in ’15 but didn’t show the same pop in High-A and had issues with contact; lost season with the injury and deserves more opportunities. ETA 2019.
16) Reyes Moronta, RHP, Grade C+: Age 23, signed out of Dominican Republic in 2010; posted 2.59 ERA in 59 innings in High-A, 93/20 K/BB, 43 hits, 14 saves; note insane K/IP ratio, generated with 96-99 with plus slider; doesn’t have a true change-up and command is erratic but could move rapidly as fireballing reliever if he throws enough strikes. ETA late 2018.
17) Dan Slania, RHP, Grade C+: Age 24, fifth round pick in 2013 from Notre Dame; posted 2.93 ERA in 120 innings between High-A, Double-A and Triple-A, 111/35 K/BB, 103 hits; fastball at 90-95, throws strikes, works in an average slider and change-up; not much different than Stratton in profile but hasn’t received as much attention; should be considered an interesting sleeper and like Stratton and Blackburn he could be a useful back starter or bullpen guy. ETA 2018.
18) Sam Coonrod, RHP, Grade C+: Age 24, fifth round pick in 2014 from Southern Illinois; 2.55 ERA with 94/60 K/BB in 141 innings between High-A and Double-A, 105 hits; command took a turn for the worse after promotion; works in low/mid-90s and fastball moves well; slider, change-up, and command are all inconsistent; should strike out more hitters than he does given the stuff he shows on his best days; probably a reliever long-term; doesn’t have Blackburn’s pitching instincts. ETA 2019.
19) Sandro Fabian, OF, Grade C+: Age 18, signed out of Dominican Republic in 2015; hit .340/.364/.522 with seven walks, 28 strikeouts in 159 at-bats in Arizona Rookie League; drew notice with gaudy rookie ball batting average and contact hitting skills; weaknesses include very low walk rate, running speed average at best, and questions about long-term power; long way off but certainly enough upside to track. ETA 2021.
20) Jordan Johnson, RHP, Grade C+: Age 23, 23rd round pick in 2014 from Cal State Northridge; 5.33 ERA with 111/39 K/BB in 120 innings in High-A, 133 hits; fastball 90-95, change-up flashes plus, throws strikes, also shows a good curve at times; pitched terribly in July (9.12 ERA) but rebounded in August (3.81); in this case the K/BB ratio is more indicative of his potential than the overall ETA, making him a sleeper. ETA 2019.
OTHER GRADE C+: Tyler Cyr, RHP; Dylan Davis, OF; Rodolfo Martinez, RHP; Cory Taylor, RHP
GRADE C prospects: Melvin Adon, RHP; Jonah Arenado, 1B; Kelvin Beltre, 3B; Ray Black, RHP; Gio Brusa, OF; Sandro Cabrera, LHP; Orlando Calixte, INF; Hunter Cole, OF; Kyle Crick, RHP; Matt Gage, LHP; Ian Gardeck, RHP; Miguel Gomez, INF; Jacob Heyward, OF; Ronnie Jebavy, OF; Chase Johnson, RHP; Ryder Jones, 3B; Matt Krook, LHP; Mac Marshall, LHP; Jose Marte, RHP; Jalen Miller, 2B; Jose Vizcaino Jr, 3B; Garrett Williams, LHP
As usual the Giants have a large number of B- and C+ types which can make exact rankings problematic. Hinojosa and Slater are ranked more aggressively than typical but I'm going with a hunch in both cases. You can make a logical case to move them down to C+ and move some of the C+ pitchers ahead of them.
I'll be around in the comments to discuss.