2013 San Francisco Giants Top Prospects

System OverviewAfter dealing Zack Wheeler and Tommy Joseph the past two seasons, San Francisco’s farm system remains incredibly thin at the top and very reliant on young arms at the bottom, a potentially hazardous combination for the long term future of the club.

Right-handers Kyle Crick and Clayton Blackburn showed a lot of promise against older competition. And Michael Kickham and Chris Heston could be serviceable backend guys in the rotation. And the team’s top hitting prospect, Gary Brown, took a major step backward in his debut in Double-A.


#1. Kyle Crick, Age: 20, Position: RHP

Crick, after throwing seven innings in the Arizona Summer League following his selection in the supplemental first round in 2011, bypassed a full stint in the rookie league and Low-A, jumping straight to A-ball last year.

One of just four 19-year-old hurlers in the South Atlantic League, the 6-foot-4 right-hander made 23 appearances (22 of which were starts) and tossed 111.1 innings with 128 punch outs (10.3 K/9) while allowing a whopping 67 free passes (5.4 BB/9). He also generated a solid amount of groundballs too, at 46.6%. According to MinorLeagueCentral.com, Crick’s Skill Independent ERA, or SIERA, was a solid 3.72.

Projection: Crick’s K-rate, 10.3, paced the South Atlantic League, as did his bloated walk rate. He has everything you look for in a young pitcher: size, build, the ability to miss bats and generate groundballs, and performed well against older competition. He could be a frontend-type starting pitcher — if his control/command improves to at least average.

Ceiling: 4.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Low to Moderate


#2. Clayton Blackburn, Age: 20, Position: RHP

A nice find in the sixteenth round out of Edmond Santa Fe HS (Edmond, OK) two years ago, Blackburn skipped Low-A and headed straight to A-ball in 2012, showing a lot of promise despite being quite young for the level.

In 131.1 innings, the young right-hander punched out 143 (9.8 K/9) and allowed just 18 free passes (1.2 BB/9), the lowest BB-rate at the level. He also generated an elite amount of worm-burners too, at 55.0%.

Projection: As a prospect, Blackburn is really underappreciated. He dominated older competition, showed poise beyond his years, and generated a lot of weak contact. He won’t be a star, but he could be a solid #2/#3-type guy.

Ceiling: 3.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate to Above-Average

#3. Gary Brown, Age: 24, Position: CF

After showing a lot of offensive promise as a 22-year-old in High-A in 2011 (.336/.407/.519), Brown’s luster dulled a bit during his first stint in Double-A last year. In 134 games with Richmond, the former first rounder hit .279/.347/.385 with 32 doubles, a pair of triples, seven homeruns and 33 stolen bases in 51 attempts (64.7% success rate).

Projection: Brown saw a noticeable decline across the board. His Isolated Power, or ISO, nearly halved, going from .182 to .106. His walk rate dropped (7.2% to 6.6%), strike out rate jumped more than two percentage points, and his stolen base success rate plummeted by nearly 10 points. As a high-round, polished collegiate player, he performed well during his debut, but really struggled last. Meaning: his true talent probably lies somewhere in between.

Ceiling: 3.0- to 3.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate


#4. Michael Kickham, Age: 24, Position: LHP

A big lefty out of Missouri State University in 2010, Kickham jumped from A-ball to Double-A last season. And in 150.2 innings with the Flying Squirrels, he struck out 137 (8.2 K/9), walked 75 (4.5 BB/9), and generated a ton of groundballs (51.0%).

Ceiling: The good news: Kickham’s K-rate held firm despite jumping to the Eastern League. The bad news: his walk rate spiked by 50%. He could be a useful mid-rotation-type, capable of chewing up a lot of innings while posting a low 4.00s ERA.

Ceiling: 2.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate


#5. Chris Stratton, Age: 22, Position: RHP

The organization’s most recent first rounder, 20th overall, Stratton had a breakout junior season with Mississippi State University last year, throwing 109.2 innings with 127 strikeouts and just 25 walks. The 6-foot-3 right-hander tossed an additional 16.1 innings at Low-A (16 Ks and 10 BBs).

Projection: Per the usual, any long term projections for recent draft picks and international free agent signings will be withheld until the follow year. Still, though, Stratton could be a good middle-rotation-type arm. He could head to High-A this year.

Ceiling: Too soon to tell

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: N/A


#6. Chris Heston, Age: 25, Position: RHP

Heston put together his finest professional season to date in 2012, making 25 starts (148.2 IP) for Richmond while posting a 2.24 ERA, 3.29 SIERA, and averaged 8.2 K/9 and just 2.4 BB/9. The 6-foot-4 right-hander also induced a lot of action on the ground (49.8% GB-rate).

Projection: At 24-years-old last season, Heston was in an age-appropriate level of competition, tempering his ceiling a bit. He could be a useful #4 for the Giants and should be among the first wave of call-ups when injuries strike.

Ceiling: 2.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate to Above-Average


#7. Heath Hembree, Age: 24, Position: RHP

Hembre has been groomed as the potential heir apparent to the big league closer’s job, though his control/command, which has been below-average at best, will need to improve. Last year he spent the season in Triple-A, his first at that level, and the results were largely underwhelming.

In 38 innings with Fresno, Hembree struck 36 (8.5 K/9) and walked 20 (4.7 BB/9), both being the worst of his career.

Projection: Hembree, who’s averaged 12.0 punch outs per nine innings through his career, witnessed another dramatic decrease in his K-rate for the second consecutive level. He’s already 24, so his control will need to take another step forward if he wishes to become anything more than a serviceable backend option.

Ceiling: 1.0- 1.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate

#8. Joe Panik, Age: 22, Position: SS

Panik, nabbed with the 29th overall pick out of St. John’s University in 2011, hit .297/.368/.402 with 27 doubles, four triples, seven homeruns and 10 stolen bases (in 14 attempts). His total offensive production was 5% better than the California State League average.

Projection: Panik showed some ability on both sides of ball last season, playing a solid shortstop while essentially being an average California League bat. Offensively, he really lacks a true standout tool; his eye is solid, power is below-average, and has a little bit of speed.

Ceiling: 2.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate


#9. Martin Agosta, Age: 22, Position: RHP

The team’s most recent second rounder, Agosta tossed 103.1 innings for St. Mary’s, averaging 8.27 K/9 and 2.35 BB/9. The 6-foot-1 right-hander punched out 19 and walked nine in 10.2 professional innings.

Projection: Nothing really to go on. And Agosta performed well against mid-level college competition. Maybe he becomes a backend rotation arm.

Ceiling: Too soon to tell

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: N/A

#10. Andrew Susac, Age: 23, Position: C

A second rounder out of Oregon State University two years ago, Susac jumped straight to High-A last season, hitting .244/.351/.380 with 16 doubles, three triples, and nine homeruns. His production was 4% below the California League average. Defensively, he threw out 32% of would-be base stealers.

Projection: Susac doesn’t profile as a big league regular right now, at least offensively. He did show a strong eye at the plate, walking 12.9% of the time. His power is slightly below-average power — .136 ISO — but it did improve throughout the season. He could be a useful backup.

Ceiling: 1.0- to 1.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate


#11. Ricky Oropesa, Age: 23, Position: 1B

A 2011 third round pick out of Southern Cal, Oropesa bypassed the lower levels and began his career by hitting .263/.338/.425 with 30 doubles, three triples, and 16 homeruns in High-A.

Projection: The bane of Oropesa’s 2012 was, no surprise, facing left-handers, whom he hit a combined .219/.293/.338 against. He showed a good eye at the plate, and average power. He might be able to squeak out a bench spot somewhere down the line.

Ceiling: 1.0- to 1.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Low to Moderate


#12. Roger Kieschnick, Age: 26, Position: OF

Kieschnick, a third round pick out of Texas Tech all the way back in 2008, finally made it to Triple-A last season, hitting .306/.376/.604 in 55 games. His total production was a whopping 47% above the league average.

Projection: Kieschnick is likely going to fall between being a Quad-A and MLB bench bat. He’s shows power and a decent eye, but has seen his K-rate worsen in the last two seasons.

Ceiling: 1.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate to Above-Average


#13. Rashawn Payne, Age: 23, Position: LF

A late round pick in 2011, Payne spent all but two games in A-ball last season, hitting .309/.413/.430 with 19 doubles, six triples, six homeruns, and swiping an impressive 53 bags in just 56 attempts (94.6% success rate). His total production was 39% better than the South Atlantic League.

Projection: A very, very interesting prospect. Payne was old for the level, but he showed strong plate discipline (12.7% BB-rate) and was one of the most prolific thieves in the minors. He won’t be a starting MLB material, but he could carve out a nice career as a pinch-runner/fourth outfielder.

Ceiling: 1.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Low to Moderate


#14. Adam Duvall, Age: 24, Position: 3B

After splitting time between second and third bases during his debut season (2010), Duvall spent the last two seasons at the hot corner, mostly with mixed results. Regardless, any big league value he carries is strictly found in his bat, which perhaps packs the most power of any player in the system.

In 134 games with San Jose, Duvall hit .257/.325/.485 with 58 total extra-base knocks (24 doubles, four triples, and 30 homeruns).

Projection: Now the bad news, of course. The power is very real for Duvall, who spent half his games in a pitcher-friendly home ballpark. But, despite the 58 extra-base hits, he was essentially a High-A league-average bat. He could develop into a useful bench bat, nothing more.

Ceiling: 0.5- to 1.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Low to Moderate


#15. Mac Williamson, Age: 22, Position: RF

Williamson, the organization’s most recent third rounder out of Wake Forest, dominated the Low-A competition last year, hitting .342/.392/.596 with eight doubles and seven homeruns. His total offensive production was a staggering 78% better than the league average.

Projection: During his final year at Wake, Williamson offered up a lot of power and a solid eye at the plate, the latter didn’t come through during his debut. It’s tough to get a good read on him now, but he’s likely headed to High-A this season.

Ceiling: Too soon to tell

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: N/A


#16. Nicoll Parra, Age: 18, Position: OF

The slight-framed Parra didn’t really hit as a 17-year-old in the Dominican Summer League (.230/.437/.292). But managed to walk 23.3% of the time and swiped 21 bags in just 65 games.

Projection: A huge wild card, but the speed and patience are very, very intriguing.

Ceiling: Too soon to tell

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: N/A


Photo of Kyle Crick Courtesy of Augusta GreenJackets via MiLB.com


After serving as a video scout/analyst for Baseball Info Solutions, Joe Werner began writing at his original site, ReleasePoints.com. He’s since transitioned into his current niche, prospect analysis, at ProspectDigest.com. He has been fortunate — and incredibly blessed — to have some of his work published and mentioned by several major media outlets, including: ESPN, Cleveland.com and the Baseball Research Journal. He can be reached at: JosephMWerner@yahoo.com.