It wasn’t long ago that the San Francisco Giants farm system was pumping out some of the better pitching talent in the big leagues. Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, and Madison Bumgarner all rose to stardom.
While it’s been a bit barren on the Giants’ farm since, there are still some intriguing pieces. This “3 to know” will thus focus on some of the lesser known pitchers in the system.
Melvin Adon, RHP
Adon can bring the heat. The problem is that is by and far his best offering.
The Giants signed Adon out of the Dominican Republic at the age of 20 in 2015 for just $50,000 as a relative unknown. He had a terrific debut in the Dominican Summer League and made his full season debut in the South Atlantic League last year (full report from Rome can be found HERE).
Adon’s fastball can hit triple-digits and he carries it well into games, hitting as high as 98 into the fifth inning in one viewing. He adds a changeup and slider, the latter a strikeout pitch that comes across in the low 80s, if and when he controls it.
The Giants kept Adon in the rotation for much of the season, but he needs to develop his secondary pitches for that to become a reality. Now 23, he needs to start to put it together, and lower that career 3.44 walks-per-nine rate. Still, anyone that can unleash a fastball like he can is well worth watching.
Garrett Williams, LHP
Williams is armed with two well-above average pitches and his success in the hitter-friendly California League is certainly promising.
The 23-year-old was drafted in the seventh round of the 2016 MLB Draft out of Oklahoma State. While he made a name for himself on the Little League World Series stage, his high school and college career were plagued by injury and inconsistencies. After the Giants worked on his delivery last year, Williams is showing he just may be able to command his top notch stuff.
(video from Baseball Census. There’s a good scouting report on Williams there as well.)
Williams made 11 starts in the SAL and five in the Cal League. Overall, he went 6-5 with a 2.32 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP. Though his walk rate was 3.24-per-nine combined, the number came down significantly once he jumped to High-A, walking just ten over his six appearances.
Both MLBPipeline and Baseball America seem to feel the same way in regards to Williams. They grade the fastball and curveball with high regard, so we know he has two big-league ready pitches. With the obvious improvements in his delivery and command last season, Williams has the ceiling of a middle rotation arm, but could wind up a swingman type pitcher if he can’t develop the change and consistency.
Garrett Cave, RHP
Garrett Cave was the first Division II player taken off the board, not surprising by any means. He transferred into Tampa from Florida International, where pitching coach Sam Militello was able to work with him. There is plenty to like in Cave, but a huge question mark remains on whether he will be coming out of the bullpen or in the rotation.
Simply put, Cave has the stuff to be a starting pitcher. He hasn’t shown the consistency in delivering it. He has a great fastball, striking out 29 in his first 20 professional innings in the Northwest League, but walked 5.40 batters-per-nine over the same span. He has four pitches, highlighted by a mid-90s fastball that seems to work better in relief that as a starter.
“I throw a four-seam and two-seam fastball, a curveball, change-up, and a cutter. The pitch I really have all of my confidence and heart in is my fastball,” Cave told us. “It has been a pitch that has always worked for me, especially since God has blessed me with the ability to throw hard. I have great confidence in my off speed as well but when I know I can put away a batter with a well placed fastball, thats what I love to do. The pitch that I need to keep working on is the cutter only because I started throwing it [last] summer. It has shown a lot of potential and I’m excited to start utilizing it.”
Cave is likely a little bit of a ways off as the Giants figure out which direction they want to go with him. He has said in the past, especially after a strong summer on the Cape out of the bullpen, that he enjoys both roles. That should help as he climbs the ladder.