Most minor league sites will do top-10s, top-15s, top-20s, or some other ranking. Last year, to be a bit different, the FanSided team prospect lists (which were done at Call to the Pen, since S2S didn’t exist), instead listed a team’s top prospect at each position (C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, 3 OFs, 5 SPs, and 2 RPs). This year, we’re keeping that format, but also adding a “Best of the Rest” section that lists the top ten players beyond the positional rankings. That’s 25 players per system, if you’re counting.
This was an extremely difficult system to dig into but that wasn’t really a surprise after putting together the NL West Top-100 Prospect Showdown three weeks ago. Based off that, I knew heading into the research phase of this column that Brown was the only consensus top-100 player in the system and that only three other Giants prospects – Panik, Surkamp and Peguero – were included on at least one of the six lists I examined. At the conclusion of that series I found that San Francisco’s system ranked 27th.
The pitching prospects here certainly don’t help matters and after writing up the Cardinals system I was faced with a stark contrast in both quality and upside. It was akin to dunking your hand in boiling water and then quickly dropping it into a pile of ice cubes. If all the Giants arms were added to the Cardinals system only Surkamp would potentially crack St. Louis’ prospect rotation and there’s an emphasis on “potentially” as Nathaniel and I are both more optimistic about the lefty than others are. Then again that’s not a real fair comparison as most organizations would struggle to match the Cards quartet of Miller, Martinez, Jenkins and Rosenthal.
As you will see below, after Surkamp, spots 2-4 in the rotation are occupied by guys who pitched in the AZL and the 5th starter spent 2011 in the South Atlantic League. That’s not a bad thing given the solid state of the major league rotation and there is some intrigue and potential in the top arms.
San Francisco’s 2011 draft class, led by Panik, looks to have a lot of potential but is largely untested.
Position Player Upside: C+
Position Player Depth: C
Pitching Upside: C+
Pitching Depth: C
System Grade: C
Catcher - Tommy Joseph (20): Hit 0.270/.317/.471, 33 2B, 22 HR, 29 BB and 102 SO in 560 PA (127 G) with San Jose (A+). Offensively, some of Joseph’s numbers improved over the previous season but it remains to be seen how much of that was simply a byproduct of moving from the South Atlantic in 2010 to the California League. Despite spending 2011 in an offensively charged environment his BB% dropped from 5.5% to 5.2% and with the existing questions surrounding his plate discipline and approach that’s a bit of a red flag. However, he did improve his K% from 24.5 to 18.2 and also made some gains defensively. With plus power, a plus arm and the increasingly likelihood that he will be able to stay behind the plate he has a chance to become a everyday major league catcher.
First base - Brett Pill (27): Hit 0.312/.341/.530, 36 2B, 25 HR, 25 BB and 54 SO in 576 PA (133 G) with Fresno (AAA). He also made his major league debut in September and hit 0.300/.321/.560 in 53 PA (15 G) with the Giants. Pill is 27, but he’s coming off his finest season as a professional – his second in the PCL – and San Francisco’s only other viable prospect at the position is 2011 3rd round pick Efrin “Ricky” Oropesa who has yet to log a professional at bat. Pill makes good contact, has decent pop in his bat and is solid defensively. He played 57 games at 2B with Fresno but is still considered only an emergency option at that position.
Second base - Charlie Culberson (22): Hit 0.259/.293/.382, 34 2B, 10 HR, 14 SB, 22 BB and 129 SO in 587 PA (137 G) with Richmond (AA). Not surprisingly, Culberson’s numbers dropped off from his 2010 performance in the California League and Double-A proved to be a stiff challenge. Eastern League pitchers were able to take advantage of his over-aggressive nature and it’s an area he needs to show significant improvement in if he’s going to carve out a major league career. Coming off a year that saw him strike out almost 5.9 times for every walk, there is a lot of ground to cover. Outside of his approach he has average power and speed and has settled in at 2B showing solid overall ability at the position. He’s a very heady and instinctual player but his one major flaw will probably keep him being anything more than a utility player.
Third base - Conor Gillaspie (24): Hit 0.297/.389/.453, 22 2B, 11 HR, 9 SB, 66 BB and 79 SO in 503 PA (124 G) with Fresno and 0.263/.333/.421 in 21 September plate appearances with San Francisco. Since being selected 37th overall in the 2008 draft, Gillaspie has progressed steadily through the Giants system and has consistently shown an ability to take a walk and limit strike outs. In 2011 his BB rate was a healthy 13.1% which almost equaled his 15.7% K rate and he set career highs in all three slash stats. He’s worked hard since being drafted to improve his defense at 3B and he’s now a capable fielder at the position. While he makes good contact with a solid approach, he currently has below average power and doesn’t project to improve significantly in that area. Gillaspie has value as a bench player at the major league level but his upside beyond that is limited.
Shortstop – Joe Panik (21): Hit 0.341/.401/.467, 10 2B, 6 HR, 13 SB, 28 BB and 25 SO in 304 PA (69 G) with Salem-Keizer (A-). You’ll be hard pressed to find a better debut season than the one that Panik – the Giants 2011 1st round selection (29th overall) – put together. Initially viewed as an overdraft, he dismantled Northwest League pitching and continued to hit in the AFL putting up a solid line of 0.323/.394/.473 in 27 games. Panik has a plus bat and an outstanding approach at the plate while the rest of the his game has a ceiling of solid-average. His baseball intelligence is off the charts which allows him to play above his tools and adjust quickly. His arm is average but he has wonderful defensive instincts and is very reliable in the field. Most sources have all but moved him to 2B, and while he would be a tremendous defensive asset at that position I believe he can get the job done at SS in the majors.
Outfielder #1 – Gary Brown (23): Hit 0.336/.407/.519, 34 2B, 13 3B, 14 HR, 53 SB, 46 BB and 77 SO in 638 PA (131 G) with San Jose (A+). The Giants top prospect by a wide-margin, Brown slugged over 0.500 with 61 XBH, swiped 53 bases and struck out in just 12% of his plate appearances. While the Cal League obviously inflated his stat line his plus-plus speed and defensive capabilities in CF will remain assets for him wherever he plays. He has excellent bat speed and a good contact ability that should allow him to hit around 0.300 once he reaches the majors. Power will never be a large part of his game but some believe he will wind up with average power once we develops. As a top of the order bat, he will need to keep his SO and BB rates in line as he faces more advanced pitching and continue to rein in his aggressive approach. If he develops as expected he will give San Francisco a perennial All-Star to build around.
Outfielder #2 – Francisco Peguero (23): Hit 0.312/.332/.445, 14 2B, 6 3B, 7 HR, 12 SB, 12 BB and 53 SO in 372 PA (87) with San Jose and Richmond. Signed out of the Dominican Republic back in 2006, Peguero just finished up his 6th minor league season and reached Double-A Richmond for the first time despite missing the first two months of the season recovering from surgery on his knee. He’s an outstanding defensive outfielder with an above average arm and plus speed. He may develop average power in time but for now his offensive value is almost exclusively tied to his BA which sits at 0.312 through 509 minor league games. Peguero has the tools to be an everyday player, or an outstanding 4th OF, but his approach needs a significant overhaul if he’s going to reach his ceiling. To say that he is overly aggressive at the plate is to undersell his nature and while he hit 0.309 with Richmond, he wound up with a 45-5 SO-to-BB in 71 games there. It’s a testament to his ability to make contact that he doesn’t strike out more but a 3.2% BB rate (1.7% with the Flying Squirrels) isn’t going to get it done. He figures to spend a large chunk of 2012 at Fresno and it will be interesting to see how he stacks up against Triple-A pitching. I’m not optimistic.
Outfielder #3 – Jesus Galindo (21): 0.276/.353/.364, 9 2B, 47 SB, 25 BB and 46 SO in 275 PA (62 G) with Salem-Keizer. After two seasons in the DSL, Galindo made his stateside debut last season and acclimated well. His plus-plus speed made the journey with him and he used it to his advantage. He’s naturally agressive on the basepaths but he’s far from reckless having successfully swiped 112 bases in 131 attempts (85.5% success rate) over 181 career games. As you can imagine, with his legit 80 speed, Galindo covers a lot of ground in CF and pairs that with an above average arm and good overall defensive instincts. The downside here is that he has next to zero power which puts more pressure on his contact skills and do everything in his power to maximize his ability to get on base. He’s learned to switch hit adding to his overall value and he already seems like a good candidate to be at least a 4th outfielder. He’s a ways away but there’s a lot to like here and it wouldn’t surprise me if he and Chuckie Jones (see below) both pass Peguero in terms of their prospect status.
Starting Pitcher #1 – LHP Eric Surkamp (24): 1.94 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 45 BB and 170 SO in 148.1 IP (24 G/23 GS) with six of those innings in with San Jose and the rest with Richmond. Surkamp also made 6 starts with the Giants throwing 26.2 innings en route to a 5.74 ERA, 1.84 WHIP and a 13-18 SO-to-BB. He’s not flashy and his fastball isn’t overwhelming but he spots it well and knows how to pitch. Surkamp also has a plus curveball, an already average changeup that flashes plus and is working on a cutter. As I wrote earlier this month, “I get that his 6 start stint in the majors at the end of the season was pretty rough – the last two starts in particular – but what we saw in San Francisco was a worn down and overwhelmed version of the talented lefty.” In short, people are severely underselling his chances labeling him a #4 or #5 starter. Once he gets some Triple-A seasoning and then gets his feet wet in the majors I believe he will ascend to the status of a solid #3 starter.
Starting Pitcher #2 – RHP Kyle Crick (19): 6.43 ERA, 2.43 WHIP, 8 BB and 8 SO in 7.0 IP (7 G) with the AZL Giants (Rk). After Panik, the Giants picked Crick 49th overall this past June. At 6’4″ and 220 lbs he already has a durable, near ideal workhorse type frame. His fastball sits comfortably in the 90s with movement and he was clocked as high as 97 in high school. His pitch mix is rounded out by a potentially plus curveball, above average slider and also has the rudimentary workings of a splitter and changeup. As with most big, hard-throwing HS draft picks he’s raw and needs to refine his secondary pitches and improve his fastball command. While the brief dip in pro waters didn’t go so well there are a lot of reasons to like his chances to develop into a #2/#3 starter.
Starting Pitcher #3 – RHP Clayton Blackburn (19): 1.08 ERA, 0.57 WHIP, 3 BB and 30 SO in 33.1 IP (12 G/6 GS) with the AZL Giants. Another product of the 2011 draft class, the Giants landed Clayton in the 16th round and he impressed in the first 33.1 innings of his career. Armed with a low-90s sinking fastball he generates a lot of ground balls while his curve, slider and changeup are all fairly advanced for his age. As the 30-3 SO-to-BB numbers suggests, he throws strikes and already understands some of the nuances of keeping hitters off balance. Blackburn has a natural feel for pitching that will allow him to get the most out of an already solid mix of pitches. At 6’3″ and 220 lbs he should also be durable over the long haul and has a ceiling of a #3 starter.
Starting Pitcher #4 – RHP Joan Gregorio (19): 2.32 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 16 BB and 43 SO in 50.1 IP (12 GS) with the AZL Giants. The Dominican born, 6’7″, 180 lb Gregorio was solid in the DSL after signing with the Giants on March 2nd, 2010. He turned things up a notch while transitioning to life in the states as his SO/9 jumped from 5.0 to 7.7 while he managed to keep his BB/9 under 3.0 and his H/9 under 8.0. Obviously there’s a lot of projection here but his 90-94 mph fastball is already solid and he flashes a similarly solid curveball. The changeup, however, lags behind and remains a work in progress. He should pick up some additional velocity as he fills out a bit more making him a bit of a moving target, but his present ability to throw strikes and keep the ball down in the zone are very positive signs.
Starting Pitcher #5 – LHP Mike Kickham (23): 4.11 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 37 BB and 103 SO in 111.2 IP (21 GS) with Augusta (A). After our three-stop journey through the AZL Giants, we get to Kickham who was the team’s 6th round selection in the 2010 draft. He battled blisters and had a very forgettable July but bounced back with a 1.78 ERA and 20-5 SO-to-BB rate in 30.1 August innings. Kickham features a three pitch mix with a low-90s fastball, average slider and below average curveball to go with his 6’4″ 205 lb frame. I struggled to decide between Mike and Rosin for this spot finally decided to give the nod to the lefty. Being born in Springfield, MO and pitching for Missouri State didn’t hurt Kickham’s cause in my book.
Relief Pitcher #1 – RHP Heath Hembree (23): 1.86 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 25 BB and 78 SO in 53.1 IP (54 G) split between San Jose and Richmond. Hembree, the Giants 5th round pick from the 2010 draft, was astounding in the Cal League with a 0.73 ERA and 16.1 SO/9 in 24.1 IP. He had little trouble adjusting to once he was bumped up to Double-A. The overall statline from his first full pro season is certainly impressive, as is the fact that he’s already shown a closer’s mentality saving games in 38 of his 54 appearances. Hembree throws easy heat with his mid-90s fastball that has excellent movement. He complements his fastball with a hard slider that flashes plus and the workings of a changeup. Hembree has all the makings of a exceptional major league reliever and the temperment to close out games. He figures to start the season with Fresno but could be setting up Brian Wilson by the end of the year and may wind up replacing him down the road.
Relief Pitcher #2 – RHP Christopher Marlowe (22): 0.00 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 1 BB and 5 SO in 3.0 IP (3 G) with the AZL Giants (Rk). The Giants 5th round pick in the June draft, Marlowe gets the nod here over guys with more experience and good results. My decision is based primarily on the fact that his mid-90s fastball and curveball both grade out as plus-plus pitches as well as his track record in college at Oklahoma State and in the JC ranks before that. He’s been a strikeout machine everywhere he’s been despite his smaller 6″1″, 170 lb frame which makes him a fun guy to watch and root for.
Best of the Rest
- #1) C Hector Sanchez (22): Hit 0.285/.328/.452, 23 2B, 12 HR, 24 BB and 71 SO in 396 PA (98 G) with San Jose and Fresno. Also made his major league debut and hit 0.258/.324/.323 in 34 PA (13 G) with San Francisco. Sanchez was pressed into major league action as the team was scrambling after Buster Posey went down. Hector handled himself well considering he started the year in High-A. Defensively he has all the tools to be a major league backstop but his ability with the bat is still hard to pin down. His plate discipline is a bit of a concern and he needs some more time in the minors but he should have a future as a big league backup at least.
- #2) RHP Seth Rosin (23): 3.34 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 30 BB and 93 SO in 89.0 IP (39 G/10 GS) with Augusta. I actually think Rosin has a better chance to become a reliable asset in a major league rotation than Kickham, but my feelings here are biased since Seth pitched for the University of Minnesota. (For those of you keeping score, playing baseball for the Golden Gophers trumps my bias for guys from Kansas and Missouri.) At 6’5″ and 235 lbs, the St Paul native is a big boy with a durable frame and I’ve been a huge fan of his since his college days – even removing my Minnesota bias. Taken in the 4th round of the 2010 draft, I was elated that the Giants wound up with him as they have a track record of developing pitching talent and felt theirs was an organization he could thrive in. Primarily a three-pitch guy with a low-90s fastball, curve and changeup he was very impressive coming out of the bullpen in the Arizona Fall League and was touching 97 on the radar guns down there. San Francisco used him in the rotation, as a closer and as a set-up man in 2011 but I believe his true value lies as a starter. Hopefully the Giants give him a full season in that role to see what he can do.
- #3) C Andrew Susac (21): The team’s 2nd round pick out of Oregon State, Susac signed for $1.1 million but has yet to make his professional debut. He has plus power potential and should be solid defensively, but how much he will actually hit as a professional remains unknown.
- #4) OF Jarrett Parker (23): Hit 0.253/.360/.397, 25 2B, 13 HR, 20 SB, 74 BB and 144 SO in 571 PA (127 G) with San Jose. There’s a lot to like here as the Giants 2nd round pick from the 2010 draft has plus speed, an average arm and above-average power potential. However there are concerns about his ability to make contact and even the Cal League couldn’t mask that.
- #5) LHP Adalberto Mejia (18): 1.42 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, 8 BB and 71 SO in 76.0 IP (13 GS) with the DSL Giants. Signed out of the Dominican Republic for $350,000 in March of 2011, Mejia had little difficulty with DSL competition and his stat line alone merits his inclusion on this list. It’s not prudent to get too excited until we see how he transitions to the AZL and beyond but there’s a fair amount of intrigue and projection here.
- #6) LHP Josh Osich (23): San Francisco landed Osich with their 6th round pick in the 2011 draft but we’re still waiting for him to make his professional debut. A Tommy John surgery survivor, he throws in the 93-95 range with his fastball, plus changeup, and a slider that has potential. In terms of talent alone he deserves to be much higher on this list but he has a dubious injury history and he may be forced to develop as a reliever to save wear on his arm.
- #7) 1B Ricky Oropesa (22): Another 2011 draft pick that has yet to make his professional debut, the 3rd round selected Oropesa has above average raw power potential. How much he will hit and what he will bring to the table defensively remain to be seen.
- #8) SS Ehire Adrianza (22): Hit 0.273/.352/.434, 34 2B, 6 HR, 8 SB, 41 BB and 78 SO in 430 PA (94 G) with Augusta and San Jose. Aside from his time in the California League, Adrianza has shown very little with the bat but is a standout defensively. It’s his glove that will carry him and likely lead him to the majors in some capacity – likely as a middle infield backup.
- #9) OF Charles Jones (19): Hit 0.218/.322/.315, 6 2B, 2 HR, 4 SB, 15 BB and 48 SO in 146 PA (41 G) with Salem-Keizer. The Boonville, MO native was selected in the 7th round of the 2010 draft based on his physical projection. 87 games into his professional career he remains long on projection and light on results. The plus power potential and above average speed and arm are still there and he could move up prospect lists quickly if we see signs of development.
- #10) 3B Adam Duvall (23): Hit 0.285/.385/.527, 30 2B, 22 HR, 59 BB and 98 SO in 510 PA (116 G) with Augusta. Chris Dominguez gets more publicity, but Duvall was significantly better in the South Atlantic League as a 22-year old in 2011 than Dominguez was at age 23 in 2010. Duvall has better contact ablity, significantly better plate discipline and has shown better power production as well. He also made our 2011 SAL All-Star team but is still not highly thought of as a prospect.
The complete list of S2S 2012 Team Prospect Rankings can be found here.
For more on the Giants, check out Around the Foghorn.
Topics: Adalberto Mejia, Adam Duvall, Andrew Susac, Brett Pill, Charlie Culberson, Christopher Marlowe, Chuckie Jones, Clayton Blackburn, Conor Gillaspie, Ehire Adrianza, Eric Surkamp, Francisco Peguero, Gary Brown, Heath Hembree, Hector Sanchez, Jarrett Parker, Jesus Galindo, Joan Gregorio, Joe Panik, Josh Osich, Kyle Crick, Mike Kickham, Ricky Oropesa, San Francisco Giants, Seth Rosin, Tommy Joseph