22 San Francisco Giants prospects you need to know
Who will be the next Buster Posey?
Most baseball experts concede that Gary Brown is the Giants’ top prospect today, and it’s no wonder why. The 23-year old centerfielder had a monster year at Class-A San Jose in 2011, batting .336/.407/.519 (0.925 OPS) with 14 HR, 80 RBI, and a whopping 53 stolen bases.
Brown isn’t the only Giants prospect who has a bright future. Below is my list of 22 Giants prospects whose names may eventually be stitched on the back of a San Francisco jersey. (Guys like Eric Surkamp, Hector Sanchez, Brett Pill and Brandon Crawford have already tasted their first cups of Joe, so I won’t list them here, instead focusing on players with no Major League experience.)
1. Gary Brown (age 23, Cal State Fullerton, OF, Bats R, Throws R)
Brown (pictured above) makes very good contact with the bat and makes even better use of his quickness to get on base. Throw him a fastball and it’s very likely he’ll put the ball into play. As he learns more of the nuances of base stealing, he’ll become an even more dangerous threat on the paths. He doesn’t have much pop in his bat — he will probably be more of a triples machine at AT&T Park as he knows how to use the gaps. His speed will also allow him to cover the expanses in center field, where he’s expected to play when he finally makes it to the big leagues. Despite a below-average arm, he’s very athletic. His long season at San Jose led to exhaustion and he was pulled from the Arizona Fall League after an undisclosed illness (flu?).
2. Joe Panik (21, St. John’s, INF, L/R)
Panik is a polished hitter, with great pitch recognition and gap-to-gap power. He’s been flashing those tools in the Arizona Fall League, where (as of Sunday) he was batting .321/.396/.444 (0.840 OPS) with four doubles and two homers. In 23 AFL games (81 at bats), Panik has struck out just nine times. On defense, he has great instincts. His arm’s not the strongest, but he rarely makes mistakes. Some compare him to Freddy Sanchez or Jeff Keppinger.
3. Tommy Joseph (20, C, Horizon HS (AZ), R/R)
If Posey ever has career-lingering effects from the season-ending blast he took at home plate from Scott Cousins last spring (and the Giants decide to move him to first base or something), the organization has another young catching prospect waiting in the wings. Personally, I think Tommy Joseph has a better shot at long-term, big league success than Hector Sanchez. Still just 20 years old, the Scottsdale native smacked 22 homers and 33 doubles at Class-A San Jose in 2011. Joseph’s bat showed major improvement over his 2010 campaign, as he added 96 points to his OPS.
4. Francisco Peguero (23, OF, R/R)
A knee operation caused Peguero to miss the first two months of the 2011 season, but that didn’t halt the 23-year old’s progress much. He batted .324/.387/.441 in 16 games for Class-A San Jose, then followed that up by hitting .309/.318/.446 in 71 games at Double-A Richmond. He finished the 2011 season batting a combined .312/.332/.445 (0.776 OPS) with 7 HR, 14 doubles, six triples and 46 RBI in 87 games. As of Monday, Peguero was batting .269 (14-for-52) in the Dominican Winter League.
5. Andrew Susac (21, Oregon State, C, R/R)
Susac, who grew up in the Sacramento area (I actually played ball with his uncle), is a very talented and hard-working backstop. The Giants’ 2011 second round pick had an outstanding (albeit short) career at OSU, batting .283 with 7 HR and 45 RBI in 237 at bats covering two seasons with the Beavers. He nailed 17 of the 27 runners (63%) that tried to steal on him, too. A broken hamate bone slowed his progress this past year, but his strong arm and intelligence behind the plate make him a candidate to move up through the Giants’ system quickly.
6. Kyle Crick (18, Sherman HS (TX), P, L/R)
The Giants took the 18-year old Crick in the first round of the June draft this past summer (49th overall). He has a blazing fastball (clocked at 95 mph), a very good cutter and he is developing a nice change up. Crick is a big right-hander (6-4, 220) with a Matt Cain-like body, built for endurance. He played in the Arizona Summer League and pitched in 7 games (all as a reliever), where he got roughed up for five runs in seven innings total. It’s a small sample size, to be sure, but his strikeout rate of 10.3 per 9 was fantastic. Unfortunately, his walk rate was the same. He’s raw but the Giants have a lot of faith in the youngster.
7. Ehire Adrianza (22, INF, S/R)
Adrianza was signed by the Giants as a 16-year old in 2006 and has played in every level of the minors now. He still isn’t ready for the upper levels which is why he spent the bulk of the 2011 season at Class-A San Jose, where he batted .300/.375/.470 with 24 doubles, three triples and three home runs in 262 plate appearances. His defense is solid and he has a very strong arm at shortstop. Adrianza needs to become more consistent at the plate. His long stride with the bat makes him susceptible to strike outs. 2012 will be a make or break year for Adrianza, who is on the Giants’ 40-man roster. How he does this year in the minors will determine whether or not he’s in the Giants’ long-term plans or merely a “throw-in” for another trade.
8. Seth Rosin (23, Minnesota, P, R/R)
Rosin, who was selected by the Giants in the 4th round of the 2010 June draft, is a big right-hander with powerful stuff. The 6-5, 235-pounder was dominating in six games at Short Season Salem-Keizer in 2010, where he struck out nine and walked just one batter in 11 innings for the Volcanoes. His strikeout rate got even better after the Giants promoted him to Class-A Augusta, where he fanned 93 batters in 89 innings for the Yellowjackets (9.4 SO/9 rate). His walk rate also crept up in the Sally League (3.03 BB/9). He’s been doing well in the Arizona Fall League. As of Tuesday, he was posting a 2.13 ERA in nine games for the Scottsdale Scorpions with 9 K and 4 BB in 12.2 innings. I think his size and durability — and his competitiveness on the mound — will help him move through the ranks pretty quickly. I wonder if the Giants will start him at Class-A San Jose or Double-A Richmond in 2012?
9. Heath Hembree (22, College of Charleston, P, R/R)
In a little over one full minor league season, Hembree owns an impressive 14.0 SO/9 rate and 41 saves. The 6-4, 200-pound righty was simply dominating at Class-A San Jose, where he struck out 44 batters in just 24.2 innings last year. After being promoted to Double-A Richmond, the strikeouts continued (34 in 28.2 innings). The walk rate is still too high (4.2 BB/9 last year), indicating a need for Hembree to master his control. All that being said, though, it’s “so far so good” for the Giants’ closer of the future.
10. Kentrell Hill (21, Arkansas Baptist College, OF, R/R)
Taken in the 10th round of the 2011 June draft (327th overall), Hill is a five-tool player who is still very raw. He has sprinter’s speed (4.47 in the 40-yard dash) which translated into 36 stolen bases in 56 games at Division I Arkansas Baptist Junior College. He also batted .402/.482/.698 with 11 doubles and 11 HR. Hill has very good range in the outfield and a very strong arm to go with it (the Buffaloes put him on the mound five times in 2011 and he was clocked at 90 mph). Hill played in the Arizona Rookie League this past summer, where he hit just .256/.316/.360 in 86 at bats. It will be interesting to see how well he progresses in the Giants’ system. If and when he harnesses his natural talent, he will turn heads.
11. Jarrett Parker (22, Virginia, OF, L/L)
Like Brown, Parker projects into a leadoff/centerfielder-type player. He has very good speed (although Brown’s faster) and he even possesses a little pop in his bat. Parker does have some holes in his swing, however, and is still quite green. His lean frame probably could use a few more pounds of muscle, though he is very athletic. He knows how to play centerfield (better than Brown) and has an average arm, at best.
12. Ricky Oropesa (21, USC, 1B/3B, L/R)
Oropesa is definitely someone to keep an eye on. The 6-foot-3, 230-pound USC product (drafted by the Giants in the 3rd round of the 2011 June draft) is said to have plus-plus power potential at the plate. One scout said Oropesa could “easily be a 35-home run threat at the big league level.” You gotta like that. At times, the big left-hander struggles to make consistent contact with the bat, so the Giants will need to help him work on his swing. Defensively, he has a very strong arm (94 mph) and would make an excellent third baseman. His range leaves a lot to desire, though, so it’s quite possible he could end up as a first baseman.
13. Adalberto Mejia (18, P, L/L)
The Giants signed Mejia this past summer and sent him to the Dominican Summer League, where he impressed. The big, 6-3 southpaw (whose fastball has been clocked at 92 mph) went 5-2 with a 1.42 ERA and 0.868 WHIP in 76 innings in the DSL. His strikeout rate was a very impressive 8.4 per 9 innings. His walk rate was even more impressive. Mejia allowed just eight free passes in his 76 innings (0.9 BB/9 rate). He throws a decent “slurve” but the kid is still pretty raw (as evidenced by his two wild pitches and six HBPs).
14. Josh Osich (23, Oregon State, P, L/L)
Osich is another OSU Beaver product (like Susac). He had Tommy John Surgery in 2010, but the Giants thought so highly of his powerful fastball and above-average change-up and slider, they took him in the sixth round this past June. The organization hasn’t decided yet whether Osich has the durability to be a starter or if his best shot at success is out of the bullpen. If Osich can stay healthy, he should move up pretty quickly through the ranks.
15. Kelby Tomlinson (21, Texas Tech, SS, R/R)
Tomlinson was drafted by the Giants in the 12th round of the 2011 draft. He is a slick-fielding shortstop with great hands and quick feet. He can also hit. Tomlinson batted .357/.417/.543 (0.960 OPS) in 37 games at the Arizona Rookie League level before he was surprisingly promoted to Class-A Augusta. As a Yellowjacket, Tomlinson continued getting on base (.333/.400/.333). He doesn’t have much pop in his bat, but he knows how to draw a walk and has decent speed on the base paths. The Giants like Tomlinson’s leather. He finished the season at Texas Tech strongly, making just one error in his final 33 games.
16. Drew Stiner (19, C, Owasso HS (OK), R/R)
Stiner was taken in the lower levels of the June 2011 Draft (Round 43) despite a very successful high school career. He batted .370/.462/.660 helping the Rams to a 36-2 record. He’s got a cannon behind the plate and plays the catcher position like a pro. Stiner is an intelligent player who has a nice approach to hitting and makes good decisions at the plate. He has solid bat speed and makes strong contact. He makes pitchers work, too. Of all the young catchers in the Giants system, this kid reminds me of Posey the most.
17. Derek Law (21, P, Miami-Dade College, R/R)
Law is another 2011 draft pick by the Giants (he was originally selected by the Rangers in the 2009 draft but opted for college instead). He went 7-4 with a 1.75 ERA in 77 innings for Miami-Dade, where he struck out 105 batters compared to just 11 walks. He has a very good fastball (clocked at 93 mph) and throws a decent curve and slider. He pitched in the Arizona Summer League, allowing 16 hits and just two walks in 18 innings as a reliever. He also racked up 19 strikeouts in his 18 innings.
18. Bryce Bandilla (21, Arizona, P, L/L)
The 6-4, 230-pound Bandilla attended Bella Vista High School in Fair Oaks and was taken in the 4th round of the 2011 June amateur draft. His fastball is steady in the mid-90s, though he struggles to command his stuff (31 walks in 40 innings at Arizona). It’s hard to find lefties with 95 mph heat and if Bandilla can learn to “pitch,” the Giants will have themselves a nice commodity.
19. Jean Delgado (18, Caguas Military Academy (PR), INF, R/R)
Taken in the 8th round of the 2011 June Amateur Draft, Delgado is a young and raw shortstop with loads of potential. The Giants sent him to the Arizona Rookie League this past summer, where Delgado struggled at the plate (.225/.385/.310) and in the field (9 errors in 27 games). As a hitter, he has a long swing and probably needs to shorten it if he wants to be able to make a career out of baseball. If he can add some weight to his 6-0, 165-pound frame, he might develop more power. The Giants really like his flashy defense. He’s a natural at shortstop with soft hands and a quick, strong arm. He just needs experience and more self-confidence.
20. Demondre Arnold (19, Middle Georgia JC, P, R/R)
Arnold is a converted outfielder who was drafted as a pitcher in the 25th round of the 2011 June draft. At Middle Georgia, he struck out 45 batters in 32 innings. He has a Major League fastball (consistent 92-94 mph) and a plus slider. He did well in the Arizona Rookie League this past summer, where he went 1-0 with a 1.69 ERA, 0.900 WHIP and struck out 32 batters in 26.2 innings and walked just eight batters (all as a reliever).
21. Charlie Culberson (22, Calhoun HS (GA), INF, R/R)
It seems like the Giants are content with Culberson manning second base. That might be because the 6-1, 200-pounder lacks the arm strenghth to play shortstop or third. Culberson, taken 51st overall in the 2007 June draft, has mildly climbed the organizational ladder, moving from the Sally League in 2009 to the Cal League in 2010 to the Eastern League last year, where he batted .259/.293/.382 with 34 doubles, 10 HR and 56 RBI in 137 games at Double-A Richmond. The 129 strikeouts vs. 22 walks is very frightening. His 79 stolen bases in five professional seasons isn’t a true reflection of his speed. He’s not very fast. If he ever does make it to The Show, he’ll be likely used as a utility player.
22. Clayton Blackburn (18, Santa Fe HS (OK), P, L/R)
Blackburn’s fastball has been clocked consistently around 92-93 mph and he has an above-average curveball. The Giants’ 16th round draft pick in the 2011 June draft did very well in the Arizona Rookie League this past summer, going 3-1 with a 1.08 ERA and 0.570 WHIP in 12 games (six starts). The 6-3, 220-pound Blackburn has excellent command, as evidenced by his low walk rate (0.8 BB/9) and hit rate (4.3 H/9). He has a