With spring training just days from kick-starting, I definitely wanted to get out our version of the Giants top-10 prospect list.
Now, since Joe Panik has a starting job and has exceeded his rookie requirements obviously I'm not going to include him in the list. I will, however, include Andrew Susac since he's still yet to exceed rookie status and is not a lock to make the 25-man out of spring
1. Andrew Susac, C:
So with the above mentioned, you kinda had to see this one coming. Susac has the upper hand here because he's shown in brief, but clutch, situations that he's capable of being a plus back-stop at the Major League level, and at age 24 has plenty of room still to grow. Looks like he's going to have at least 15-20 HR power with good .270+ average projection and should only get better behind the dish. At worst he'll become a league average starter but I think he's better than that. Plus we all saw how the last catcher with big upside turned out....
2. Kyle Crick, RHP:
The big right-hander drops down a spot after spending last two years atop the pack. He just hasn't shown enough development on his command to really make him a can't miss guy like Cain, Lincecum and Bumgarner all were. Still, he'd dominant when on and at age 22 still has a few years to lock down that command which I think will eventually happen. Ceiling: #2 or #3 with big strikeout totals but never big 18+ win seasons because of command issues forcing him from games early.
3. Tyler Beede, RHP:
The Giants 2014 first rounder out of Vanderbilt impressed in his very brief showing in 2014 for the organization. He struck out 18 batters in 15 innings over 6 starts and sported a 3.00 ERA split between rookie ball and low-A. Expect the 21 year-old to start in either low-A or possibly San Jose. Scouts have compared him to being a Matt Cain-type if all pans out and I'll be keeping close tabs on him his first full year in pro ball this summer. Plus, he was drafted in the first round in two different amateur drafts, which has to tell you something. At best, your looking at another mid-rotation guy, possibly even #2 material
4. Keury Mella, RHP:
It was tough to pick between he and Beede for the 3 spot but I had to go Beede based on his college track record and showing last summer. Mella has electric stuff though, with a mid-90's heater with heavy sink, a hard curve and an improving change-up. If he gets a grip on that change, he could present a Pedro Martinez-type arsenal. Too early to tell possible upside but if he can put it all together, could certainly be a mid-rotation candidate down the road.
5. Clayton Blackburn, RHP:
This guy has been in our top-10 the last 3 years, so it's hard to believe he just turned 22. Doesn't have the upside of the guys ahead of him but threw well in Richmond in '14, striking out nearly a batter an inning while sporting a solid 3.29 ERA and 1.23 WHIP in 93 innings. He kinda seems to have a Ryan Vogelsong-type ceiling to me, and I hope they let him go the full year at AAA at 22 to give him that experience. He may be the most Major League-ready of any other Giants pitching prospect right now so he could get a call if the rotation goes into shambles. Projectable back-end rotation guy with #3 upside.
6. Christian Arroyo, IF
: Based on what the 19 year-old middle infielder showed in Augusta last season, ranking him this high may look like a stretch. However, he did tear the cover off the ball in low-A (.333/5/48/.847 in 243 ab's) and at 19 he looks like he's only going to keep getting better and better. Look for him to start in Augusta, or possibly even San Jose. Still too early to tell what he could become at the bigs if all pans out but a guy who can hit for a solid average (.280+) with at least gap-to-gap power is not out of the question and reasonable for a middle infielder.
7. Adalberto Mejia, LHP:
The 21 year-old was one of the bigger buzzes in the organization prior to the 2014 season, but he didn't necessarily blow their socks off in AA Richmond. He wasn't terrible, posting 4.67 ERA with 1.39 WHIP in a league notoriously known to favor the pitcher. That said, Mejia is still just 21, has a ton of attributes that scouts like as a lefty, despite the sub-par showing in 2014. One reason he's not ranked higher is because he'll face a 50-game suspension to start 2015 for PED infraction
which is hardly what the kid needs at this point.
8. Ty Blach, LHP:
Now the only slight issue working against Blach is he came out late and is already 24 with very little minor league experience. Other than that, the lefty has looked like a stud since joining the organization in 2013. His numbers over those two seasons speak for themselves, going a combined 20-12 with a 3.02 ERA and a solid 208:57 K:BB ratio over 270 innings as a pro. He's another guy who could be atop the list should the Giants need a starter called up in a pinch. Best case is he ends up almost like a left-handed version of Ryan Vogelsong or even a Noah Lowry-type. Throws 4 pitches for strikes and gives his team a chance to win but won't really overwhelm you with strikeouts or swing-and-miss stuff like some of the others higher up on the list..
9. Matt Duffy, 2B/IF:
Although he wasn't quite as influential in the postseason run as Panik, Duffy still came up and showed he could hang and even contributed in the postseason. His ceiling is probably that of a middle of the of the road middle infielder, a la Mark Ellis or David Murphy best case. He's got talent on his side but a long way to go. My guess is he spends most of his career on the bench where his versatility is a value.
10. Daniel Carbonell, OF:
"Carby" is kind of like my "project pick" here. The 23 year-old Cuban defector's raw talent could have him much higher on this board, but the fact is he's gonna be 24 by the start of the 2015 season and still has a ways to go before being Major League ready. He's not gonna be Yasiel Puig or Yeonis Cespedes, but he does have a nice combo of average power with the ability to hit for a high average. Plus he's athletic, can run and field and with a developing frame, I don't think his power has fully arrived. Likely to start the year in San Jose, although could ascend up quickly if he hits like he did last fall.
Just Missed: LHP Steven Okert
(Filthy numbers from the lefty last year and tough to exclude from top-10)
RHP Hunter Strickland
( Much of the same applies here, although Strickland's tendency for the long ball causes major concern or else he'd be top-7 easy)
There were a ton of guys that just didn't make the cut. 24 year-old outfielder Mac Williamson was right there, but he's yet to show much beyond A-ball. However, he may still be the best power guy in the system so a full healthy year out of him could have himself back in the top-5 mix next year.... Former first-round pick, RHP Chris Stratton, has seen his stock fall quite a bit the last two seasons. He had a rough year in San Jose, sporting a 5.07 ERA in over 100 IP. Still young and skilled enough to become relevant again though with a big start in 2015... Then there's 26 year-old Gary Brown and it's basically do or die for him this year. If he doesn't make the club at some point and contribute, he'll be gone in 2016. Then the guy taken shortly after him, Jarrett Parker, had one of his better years as a pro in 2014 (15 HR, .276 AVG, .830 OPS between AA/AAA) but also just turned 26 so pretty much all the same said about Brown applies to Parker too... 21 year-old backstop Aramis Garcia and (1.068 OPS in college last year) and 22 year-old lefty Luis Ysla (2.45 ERA in low-A with almost a 3-to-1 K:IP ratio) are also climbing their way up, among others we'll be watching over the next month.