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Stock Up, Stock Down for San Francisco Giants’ Top 10 Prospects for Week 11

The San Francisco Giants have the best record in the majors (despite getting swept by the Colorado Rockies at home this past weekend), but it’s still important to monitor the organization’s farm system, which will largely dictate whether the team is able to replicate its recent success in the forthcoming seasons.

Though the Giants’ minor league system has been plagued with injuries among the top prospects and still lacks top position players in comparison to many other teams’ farm systems, the recent signing of Cuban outfielder Daniel Carbonell and the surplus of young pitching has the Giants in solid shape when it comes to the well-being of their developing talent.

Let’s take a look at how those players performed last week, and what we can expect from some of the injured players going forward.


10. Clayton Blackburn

2014 Stats

8 GS, 2-5, 3.40 ERA, 9 BB, 32 K, 42.1 IP


Blackburn still hasn’t pitched since May 19, but he’s nearing his return date. According to the right-hander’s Twitter account, he finished up rehab a few days ago, with the next stop being a rookie league start. He’ll be back with the Flying Squirrels before long, where he’ll look to get back on track after slumping a bit before his injury. Blackburn has allowed 10 runs on 23 hits in 15.1 innings during his last three starts, so the Giants will be hoping that the time off will allow him to right the ship upon his return.

Last Week’s Stats



9. Joe Panik

2014 Stats

70 G, .314/.375/.440, 12 2B, 5 HR, 43 RBI, 48 R


Panik was busy last week, with a healthy total of 34 at-bats thanks to an 11-inning affair followed by a doubleheader to close out the week. Though he went hitless in the two Saturday games, Panik smashed the ball all week in the six preceding games. He registered a hit in all six contests while hitting a pair of homers (nearly equaling his total of three up to that point in the season) and driving in nine runs.

The show of power likely wasn’t a sign of things to come given Panik’s history of poor home run rates, but his pair of three-hit games and his nine-game hitting streak dating back to the previous week was simply more of the same from what has been a breakout season for the Giants second base prospect. Though manager Bruce Bochy is still confident in current big league second baseman Brandon Hicks’ ability to rebound from his current slump, the club won’t be able to ignore Panik’s success much longer if Hicks’ poor hitting turns into more than just a funk.

Last Week’s Stats
10-for-34, 2 HR, 9 RBI



8. Ty Blach

2014 Stats

12 GS, 4-3, 2.87 ERA, 13 BB, 38 K, 62.2 IP


Blach rebounded from a pair of rough starts by going five strong innings to pick up his first win since mid-May. Though he wasn’t exactly dominant, allowing seven baserunners while needing 96 pitches to get through the five innings, it was promising nevertheless to see Blach return to form a bit.

The left-hander’s Achilles’ heel this season has been the long ball, so it’s no coincidence that his second start allowing fewer than three runs since April 28 was also the first time he didn’t allow a home run since that date, a span of six starts.

In total, Blach has allowed eight home runs this season, but only 20 earned runs. Clearly, he’ll be a dominant pitcher if he can limit the homers, and considering the fact that Blach allowed eight home runs in more than twice as many innings last season, this is a trend that isn’t likely to continue.

Last Week’s Stats
1 GS, 5 IP, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K



7. Heath Hembree

2014 Stats

27 G, 0-1, 12 SV, 3.51 ERA, 9 BB, 28 K, 25.2 IP


Hembree has rebounded nicely from his four-run appearance on May 27, allowing a single earned run in eight innings since. That includes the 2.2 frame he tossed last week, during which he surrendered an unearned run but also allowed just one total baserunner.

The right-hander’s hot streak has pushed his ERA down to 3.51 on the season, and he also picked up save No. 12 on Thursday. Expect Hembree to make an impact out of the big league bullpen in September, as he did in a brief stint last season.

Last Week’s Stats
3 G, 2.2 IP, 1 R/0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K



6. Christian Arroyo

2014 Stats

31 G, .203/.226/.271, 3 2B, 1 HR, 14 RBI, 10 R


Arroyo finally returned to competitive action after sitting out for over a month with a sprained thumb, though he eased back in with a game at Low-A Salem-Keizer on Friday. The Giants shortstop prospect went 1-for-3 with a pair of RBI, and he’ll look to continue that when he re-joins the Single-A San Jose club. Arroyo had been playing in extended spring training before his game on Friday night, so he wasn’t coming into the game completely 

Arroyo is hitting .203 with just five extra-base hits in 118 at-bats this season, and he’s drawn just four walks, which shows how much he has to go in his hitting development. The power and plate discipline will likely only improve with added strength and experience, but the slow start is nevertheless concerning considering the team’s risky move to draft Arroyo in the first round of the 2013 draft.

Last Week’s Stats
1-for-3, 2 RBI (at Low-A Salem-Keizer)



5. Mac Williamson

2014 Stats

23 G, .318/.420/.506, 7 2B, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 16 R

Overview (From Last Week)

Williamson continues the trend of injured Giants prospects here, as he’s sidelined for the remainder of the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery on April 29. The Giants outfielder was putting up strong numbers prior to his injury, and he’s generally put up consistent stats throughout his minor league career, but there’s no telling whether he’ll be able to return strong from his extended absence. At the very least, hitters generally return faster than pitchers when it comes to Tommy John surgery, so we can expect to see Williamson suit up on day one in 2015.

Last Week’s Stats


4. Adalberto Mejia

2014 Stats

12 GS, 3-5, 5.61 ERA, 15 BB, 48 K, 59.1 IP


Mejia’s disastrous start to the season probably had a few people in the organization a little bit worried, but his last two starts have been much more in line with the Mejia of 2013. The left-hander had his best start of the season on Sunday when he spun seven shutout innings, though in terms of last week, he was also somewhat improved during his 5.1-inning, one-run performance.

It’s too early to say Mejia has really turned it around, especially considering his start last week wasn’t particularly great. (He allowed 11 baserunners in the 5.1 innings.) However, the recent seven-inning gem has Mejia on the upswing, and it will be interesting to see if he can continue that trend in his second start this week.

Last Week’s Stats
1 GS, 5.1 IP, 1 ER, 3 BB, 2 K



3. Chris Stratton

2014 Stats

12 GS, 4-6, 4.43 ERA, 24 BB, 66 K, 67 IP


Once again, Stratton showed that when he controls his pitches well, hitters have trouble against him. But the right-hander’s start last week was particularly impressive because he didn’t walk a single batter for the first time all season, resulting in arguably the best start of the year.

The start was also the second time in a row (and the third in four starts) in which Stratton went seven innings, showing his improved durability as well. He also struck out a season-high nine batters, and his ERA fell to 4.43. Like Mejia, Stratton has some work to do, but he has been dominant in three of his past four starts, and his rough beginning to the season is quickly receding into the background.

Last Week’s Stats
1 GS, 7 IP, 2 ER, 2 BB, 8 K



2. Edwin Escobar

2014 Stats

14 GS, 3-6, 5.26 ERA, 26 BB, 69 K, 75.1 IP


If anything, Escobar’s season in Triple-A has shown just how much work he has to do before making the leap to the majors.

Last week, the left-hander allowed four runs in five innings on nine baserunners, and he followed that up by getting battered around for five runs on 12 hits on Friday.

The back-to-back poor performances are especially disappointing because they come after Escobar had an excellent start on June 2, which might have indicated a sign of things to come. Instead, Escobar has allowed 18 hits and nine runs in the 10 innings following that start. In an up-and-down season with a lot of downs, Escobar might be better suited by spending some time down in Double-A to give him a better chance of getting back on track.

Last Week’s Stats
2 GS, 10 IP, 18 H, 9 ER, 3 BB, 10 K



1. Kyle Crick

2014 Stats

11 GS, 4-2, 3.89 ERA, 29 BB, 43 K, 44 IP


Crick took the loss on Friday in one of his worst starts of the season, allowing four runs and an alarming nine hits in five innings. The performance was uncharacteristic of Crick, who generally struggles with his control instead of getting battered around by his opponents.

The tough start likely isn’t much to get alarmed about, especially with Crick’s two solid outings before his start last week. Though it could become problematic if Crick continues to allow hits in bunches like he did on Friday.

At the very least, the silver lining was that Crick walked two batters or fewer for the third straight start, a huge positive for a pitcher whose weak point has been his control.

Last Week’s Stats
1 GS, 5 IP, 4 ER, 2 BB, 3 K



There is a seemingly endless supply of organization prospect lists all over the Internet, but for the sake of consistency, this list follows the rankings from Baseball America’s 2014 Top 10 Prospects Index.

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San Francisco Giants Mock Draft: Last-Minute Picks and Predictions

Accurately predicting a draft in any sport for any team is difficult, but when it comes to the San Francisco Giants in the 2014 MLB draft, the task becomes even more challenging.

With the draft’s imbalance of pitching and hitting talent and the recent Tommy John surgeries of a few top pitchers (including Eastern Carolina’s Jeff Hoffman), there’s nothing definite about the first round of the draft. Giants scouting director John Barr’s statement that the team could go for either a hitter or a pitcher in the first round adds further confusion to the Giants’ plans early in the draft.

With that being said, there are a few options who stand out for the Giants, and while we can’t say for sure who will land in San Francisco in the first round, there’s a good chance one of these three players will be holding a Giants uniform on draft day.


Bradley Zimmer

Zimmer, a 6’5″ lefty-hitting, righty-throwing outfielder from the University of San Francisco, is one of the top overall position players in the draft, and he’s a good fit for the Giants for a number of reasons.

The most obvious connection is that Zimmer has played in San Francisco at USF for the past three years, and he achieved a lot of success there. He hit .368 with 21 stolen bases while playing all 54 games during his senior year, which included a 19-game hitting streak. He also comes from a line of athletic talent that includes his older brother, Kyle, who was drafted fifth overall in 2012. 

ESPN’s Keith Law wrote in his latest mock draft (subscription required) that the Giants have been connected to Zimmer, and given the team’s lack of outfield prospects—two in its top 20, according to—and the USF connection, the fit makes plenty of sense.


Tyler Beede

Though the Giants won’t say whether they’ll go with a hitter or pitcher to open the draft, the safe bet is to assume they’ll go after the latter.

For one, they’ve had tons of success drafting starters in the first round—Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner—and they also drafted a hitter last year, which would make a second consecutive pitcher-free first round all the more unlikely for a team that prides itself on homegrown pitching talent.

It’s somewhat of a shot in the dark to make any type of prediction here because the first 13 picks will dictate whom the Giants select, but in terms of best fit and someone who could realistically fall to San Francisco at this spot, Vanderbilt’s Tyler Beede makes a lot of sense.

The Toronto Blue Jays drafted Beede in the 2011 MLB draft, but he turned them down in favor of pitching three years at college. After a rocky first season, the 6’4″ right-hander put it all together during his sophomore year, posting a 14-1 record with a 2.32 ERA and just 64 hits allowed in 101 innings. He hasn’t found the same success this year (8-7, 3.20 ERA), but the tools are there, and so is the potential.

Beede generally sits in the low 90s, but he can reach back for a little extra and reach the high 90s if needed. He’s also a big guy, which speaks well for his durability, and his changeup features a big speed difference from his fastball, making it a tough pitch to hit—if Beede can control it.


Grant Holmes

Holmes is perhaps the most popular pick for the Giants in the first round, with Law projecting him to land with the Giants in all three versions of his mock draft.

One of Holmes’ biggest draws is his already-developed repertoire. He has a strong fastball that sits in the low-to-mid 90s but can also reach the upper levels, and his power curveball often touches the mid-80s.

Holmes is also very similar in many respects to Tim Lincecum, in the sense that both can ratchet up the velocity despite lacking the frame typically seen from high-velocity pitchers. The move worked out for the Giants the first time, as they got two Cy Young seasons and World Series victories out of it.

Given Holmes’ high upside and his impressive arsenal of pitches, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Giants go after him on Thursday.

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San Francisco Giants 2014 Mock Draft: Projecting Their Top 3 First Round Targets

With the 2014 MLB draft less than three weeks away, it’s time to take a look at who the San Francisco Giants should target and which players could end up in the team’s farm system by season’s end.

Thanks to the Giants’ 76-86 record last season, they’ll pick 14th in the draft, which gives them an excellent shot at cashing in on the abundance of pitching talent available early in the draft.

Here are a few of the realistic targets who could be on the Giants’ radar in the first round:


Jeff Hoffman

Originally slated to be a top-five pick, Hoffman is a tall right-hander coming out of East Carolina. He possesses top-of-the-rotation stuff and has a chance to make a serious impact in the majors.

Hoffman’s draft stock fell after it was announced in early May that he would require Tommy John surgery to fix a tear in his right elbow. Though that’s obviously a huge setback for the right-hander, the Giants could certainly use that to their advantage by snagging Hoffman if he falls to them.

Interestingly, ESPN’s Keith Law wrote in his mock draft (subscription required) that the Giants wouldn’t pass up Hoffman, which means it’s only a matter of him falling as far as the 14th pick.


Sean Reid-Foley

A right-hander coming out of Sandalwood High School in Jacksonville, Fla., Reid-Foley has put up dizzying numbers this year, even for a prep pitcher. He’s struck out 120 batters in 65.2 innings, allowing 17 hits—just under one every four innings—and cut his walk total by more than half of last season’s.

The reports on Reid-Foley’s repertoire differ among draft experts.’s Jim Callis writes that Reid-Foley “commands four solid-or-better offerings,” while an ESPN scouting report states that his lack of a quality third pitch is what is keeping him from being among the very top prospects in the first round.

Solid repertoire or not, there’s no doubt that Reid-Foley’s fastball is good enough to handle big league hitters, and coupled with a slider that could top out as an above-average pitch in the majors, he stands as a solid option in a draft with plenty of deep pitching. It’s worth noting that Reid-Foley would likely be a top prep arm in any other draft, which could make him a steal for a team with a mid-first round pick, like the Giants.


Grant Holmes

Holmes is a 6’2″, 200 pound right-hander coming out of Conway High School in South Carolina, and he’s one of the more high-upside pitchers that you’ll find outside of the top few picks.

Keith Law has Holmes going to the Giants in his first mock draft, and it’s a move that makes sense for a number of reasons. For one, as Law writes, Holmes is a fireballer who is capable of reaching high velocity despite being relatively short. The last time the Giants drafted a pitcher like that, he won a pair of Cy Young awards and helped the team win a pair of championships.

Holmes already has an excellent repertoire, as well. Aside form his aforementioned fastball, which is one of his best weapons, Holmes has a filthy power curveball that touches the mid-80s. He’s quite a developed prospect, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Giants go after him.

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Bumgarner, Offense Power San Francisco Giants to 7-2 Victory over Dodgers

The Los Angeles Dodgers have to be growing tired of Madison Bumgarner, don’t you think?

The San Francisco Giants lefty ace turned out a solid performance on Saturday afternoon, allowing two runs over 6.1 strong innings as San Francisco prevailed 7-2 over Los Angeles for its fifth win in the season’s first six games.

The performance didn’t come as much of a surprise, considering MadBum’s historically exceptional success against the Dodgers, particularly at Chavez Ravine. With a 1.86 ERA and five wins in seven starts at Dodger Stadium heading into the game, Bumgarner simply picked up right where he left off.

It certainly wasn’t the left-hander’s best outing against Los Angeles, but he did an excellent job of pitching out of a few tricky spots. Indeed, the Dodgers failed to capitalize on a two-out double by shortstop Hanley Ramirez in the first inning, and first baseman Adrian Gonzalez’s double to lead off the fourth also proved harmless.

Bumgarner certainly came out firing, but he also got plenty of help from his offense. The Giants, already second in the majors in runs scored heading into the game, hit three home runs, including a huge three-run blast by Pablo Sandoval in the fifth inning. Buster Posey and Michael Morse each added solo shots as well.

The victory didn’t come easy—until the fifth inning, that is. In the first, Ramirez ensured there would be no repeat of Friday’s first-inning fiasco for the Dodgers, turning a would-be single by Hunter Pence into a double play that took the Giants out of the inning.

But that would only delay the Giants’ scoring effort, as Brandon Crawford’s RBI groundout in the second made Dodgers starter Paul Maholm pay for his leadoff walk to Morse to begin the inning.

Morse followed that up with a go-ahead solo shot on the first pitch of the fourth inning, but that would only be a prelude to the offensive explosion in the following inning.

Oddly enough, Bumgarner started the rally with an opposite-field knock. Then, after Angel Pagan’s single through the left side and a Pence flyout, Maholm tried to sneak an 84 mph changeup past Sandoval on the inner half.

That pitch would prove to be Maholm’s last of the afternoon, with Sandoval—hitting from the right side—depositing the ball over the left field fence to give the Giants a 5-1 lead. 

That proved to be all the Giants would need, thanks to Bumgarner’s masterful performance. Generally a groundout-inducing pitcher, MadBum only got several such outs that way in the game, but it didn’t really matter. For the most part, the Dodgers didn’t do much when they put the ball in the air, and Bumgarner added 10 strikeouts to help his cause, dominating the order from top to bottom.

That included Dodgers leadoff hitter Yasiel Puig, who homered off Bumgarner in the first meeting between the two last season. Since then, however, Bumgarner has held the distinct edge.

On paper, Puig fared well against MadBum—he went 1-for-3. But that one hit was erased via a pickoff, and a pair of weak flyouts accounted for the other two outs.

Then, when Santiago Casilla came in to face Puig with the bases loaded and one out, the latter got jammed and only managed a shallow flyout that didn’t bring in a run. Pence then took care of the rest:

Giants fans are undoubtedly pleased with the solid pitching performance, but the offense was what really stood out on Saturday. The three homers aside, the Giants totaled 11 hits overall, in addition to six bases on balls. It was the third consecutive game in which San Francisco scored seven runs or more.

For all the talk about how the Giants would struggle to put up runs this season, they’ve been doing a pretty good job in that regard, especially with two outs. San Francisco came into the game hitting a ridiculous .536 (15-for-28) with runners in scoring position and two outs, best in the majors, and Pagan continued that trend with a two-out RBI double in the sixth.

The three homers didn’t hurt either.

The Giants will look to continue their winning ways in the series finale on Sunday. Matt Cain will face Zack Greinke as San Francisco looks for the series sweep.


All statistics courtesy of FanGraphs.

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Breaking Down San Francisco Giants’ Top 10 Prospects to Start the 2014 Season

With the finalization of Bruce Bochy’s 25-man roster, it’s time to take a look at where the San Francisco Giants’ top prospects landed following the all-important decision. Only a few lucky youngsters cracked San Francisco’s 2014 big league squad, with the majority of the top talents sent back to the minor leagues to continue to hone their skills.

With that being said, let’s take a look at where the Giants’ top 10 prospects stand at the beginning of the 2014 season and what we can expect from them in the future.


Ranking Criteria

For the sake of consistency, these rankings follow’s top 20 list of Giants prospects. While there’s no real consensus about the team’s actual top 10 prospects,’s compilation is the most recently updated list from a reputable source, and it should provide a good overall look at the best young players in the organization.

Notable Exceptions: Heath Hembree (No. 11), Joe Panik (No. 14), Gary Brown (No. 16), Michael Kickham (No. 17)


10. Derek Law, RP

Bats/Throws: R/R

Drafted: Fourth round of 2011 draft

Age: 23

ETA: 2014

There was quite a bit of speculation that Law would make the big league club right out of spring training thanks to his strong overall performance. However, the 23-year-old will instead start the season at Double-A Richmond, with a chance to make it to the majors later on.

On paper, Law wasn’t dazzling this spring, posting a 4.50 ERA in six innings of work. But he only allowed one run in his first 4.2 innings, showcasing a low-to-mid 90s fastball and a nice sinker that’s particularly tough to track because of Law’s deceptive motion.

The right-hander does have a pretty unconventional delivery, but it doesn’t impede his ability to throw strikes. He posted a ridiculous 45/1 strikeout-to-walk ratio (that isn’t a typo) at High-A ball last year, which helped him post a minuscule 0.82 WHIP along with 11 saves. He projects as a solid setup man in the majors.


9. Mac Williamson, OF

Bats/Throws: R/R

Drafted: 3rd round of 2012 draft

Age: 23

ETA: 2016

In an organization filled with pitching prospects, Williamson is one of the better hitters in the Giants system. Taken in the third round in 2012, the young outfielder hasn’t disappointed, putting up solid numbers across the board at the lower levels in of the minors.

Williamson actually used to be a catcher in high school, and Wake Forest recruited him as a pitcher, but the Giants converted him to the outfield upon drafting him, and he’s stuck in right field ever since. As you might have guessed based on his prior positions, one of Williamson’s primary assets is his plus arm, but he also carries plenty of pop in his bat.

“Mac” hit 25 home runs in 136 games (597 PAs) at High-A last year to go along with 89 RBI and a .292 batting average. He has a decent eye at the plate (51 walks, .375 OBP), but his plate discipline could still use some work, as evidenced by his alarming 132 Ks.

Williamson will start the year in Single-A, as he still has some developing to do, but he could be in the Giants outfield as early as 2015, with a more realistic arrival time of 2016.


8. Clayton Blackburn, SP

Bats/Throws: L/R

Drafted: 16th round of 2011 draft 

Age: 21

ETA: 2015

Blackburn’s greatest asset is his overall repertoire, as opposed to just one dominant pitch. He has a nice breaking ball that, according to, can act as a 12-to-6 or a slurve. His fastball sits in the low 90s, and he also features a serviceable slider and solid changeup.

The right-hander also has plus control, walking just 1.7 batters per nine over his minor league career. His command, as he consistently pounds the lower half, is what allows him to get by with unspectacular stuff.

Projecting Blackburn’s career is tough because he hasn’t really established just how good he can be. While his tools indicate he’s destined to be a solid bottom-of-the-rotation starter, the right-hander has also shown consistent strikeout ability while also keeping batters off base (1.00 career WHIP) at the lower levels. We’ll learn a lot about Blackburn at Double-A in 2014.


7. Chris Stratton, SP

Bats/Throws: R/R

Drafted: 1st round of 2012 draft

Age: 23

ETA: 2015

The right-hander out of Mississippi State has lived up to his billing after being taken 20th overall in the 2012 draft. In 22 starts at Single-A last season, Stratton went 9-3 with a 3.27 ERA. While his control leaves something to be desired (47 walks in 132 innings), Stratton has the frame (6’3″) and command to eventually become a solid starter in the majors.

Like Blackburn, Stratton doesn’t have a fastball that can blow hitters away, but his ability to locate it down in the zone is what makes him tough. The right-hander is particularly adept at working his heater on both sides of the plate, and he complements that pitch with a nice slider.

Overall, Stratton projects as a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter. He doesn’t have tons of upside, but with his good mechanics and plus command, Stratton should see the majors before the end of 2015.


6. Ty Blach, SP

Bats/Throws: R/L

Drafted: 5th round of 2012 draft

Age: 23

ETA: 2015

Possibly the most underrated prospect in the Giants organization, Blach put himself on the map last season by posting the best ERA in the California League, a High-A league that’s notoriously hitter-friendly.

Much of that success is attributable to Blach‘s fantastic control (1.2 BB/9 in 2013), which is arguably his greatest asset on the mound. He also does a good job of keeping the ball in the park, surrendering an average of 0.6 HR/9 last season.

As far as his repertoire goes, Blach certainly doesn’t have a blazing fastball, but he commands it very well, and the pitch has some late sink to it. The left-hander also features a good changeup, and his overall four-pitch repertoire is nothing to sneeze at.

Putting up impressive numbers like he did in the California League, in his first professional season no less, has really allowed Blach to establish himself as a prospect to watch. Like many of the other top pitchers in the Giants organization, he should reach the majors in 2015.


5. Christian Arroyo, SS

Bats/Throws: R/R

Drafted: 1st round of 2013 draft

Age: 18

ETA: 2017

The Giants’ first-round pick last year, Arroyo came straight out of high school, and he didn’t disappoint in his stint in rookie ball, posting a .326 batting average and an .898 OPS.

What’s most exciting about Arroyo is his offensive potential, which is unusually high for a middle infielder. His bat speed is especially impressive, translating into fantastic gap-hitting ability. In 184 at-bats in the minors last season, Arroyo had 18 doubles and five triplesmeaning those extra base hits could become home runs as he gets stronger.

Arroyo still has some work to do with his fielding, and he has plenty of developing to do overall, so Giants fans who are anxious to see a top hitting prospect make it through the farm system will have to wait a few more years. But if Arroyo keeps hitting like he did in 2013, it’ll certainly be worth the wait.


4. Andrew Susac, C

Bats/Throws: R/R

Drafted: 2nd round of 2011 draft

Age: 24

ETA: 2014

Susac was viewed as a bit of a disappointment over his first couple of seasons in the minors, batting .249 with alarmingly high strikeout totals.

That changed quickly after the young catcher batted .360 with a .987 OPS in the Arizona Fall League, then put up impressive numbers (.263/.391/.526) at spring training this year.

Susac‘s greatest asset is undoubtedly his power, but he also has a good eye at the plate, with a 13.5 BB% last year (per FanGraphs). Add in his solid (but unspectacular) defensive ability, and he projects to be a starting catcher in the majors, perhaps allowing Buster Posey to eventually move to first base.

Susac has shown an ability to handle pitching at high levelshe played at Double-A last season, in addition to his experience in the fall league and at spring training. If he can continue to put up good numbers in 2014, it’s not outside the realm of possibility to see Susac grabbing some big league at-bats late in 2014.


3. Adalberto Mejia, SP

Bats/Throws: L/L

Drafted: Signed Mar. 18, 2011 out of the Dominican Republic

Age: 20

ETA: 2015

The 6’3″ left-hander made the leap from High-A to Triple-A last season after the Giants realized he had no trouble handling the offense-favoring California League in 2013. Mejia only got a small taste of Triple-A (five innings), but he’ll likely have a shot to return there after beginning the season at Double-A this year.

Mejia’s presence on the mound gives him an advantage, but his repertoire is what really makes him tough. His fastball isn‘t particularly quick, sitting in the low 90s, but it has plenty of movement to it, and the left-hander also locates it well. Mejia’s best secondary pitch is his slider, which has a good speed differential from his fastball and breaks hard when it’s “on.”

Look for Mejia to appear in the majors in 2015, where he should settle in nicely as a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter.


2. Edwin Escobar, SP

Bats/Throws: L/L

Drafted: Acquired from Texas in 2010

Age: 21

ETA: 2014

Escobar impressed everyone in the Giants organization this spring, putting up some dominant outings in his time with the club before being sent down to the minors.

While the left-hander will likely appear in the majors later in the season, the Giants could have to call him up earlier than they would prefer if Ryan Vogelsong struggles. Indeed, Escobar could be the most logical choice to replace Vogey should the latter continue to get battered around like he did this spring.

Admittedly, Yusmeiro Petit is probably a more likely replacement candidate, but given Escobar‘s upside and his ability to pitch at high levels, there’s no reason to pass him up. In that case, Giants fans should familiarize themselves with Escobar in case he sees regular time in the majors.

Should the Giants need to call on Escobar this year, they’ll have a pitcher whose arsenal speaks for itself. Just ask Jeff Arnold, his catcher at times during spring training and in the minors. Arnold spoke to the San Jose Mercury NewsAlex Pavlovic this spring about Escobar:

He’s a left-handed guy who can run it up to 96. The thing that stands out about Escobar is the way he changes speeds on his fastball, which proves that he’s got a great feel for pitching. He can still command it if he takes 5-6 MPH off. His secondary stuff is still a work in progress but I think his changeup is probably his best secondary pitch right now. Once he gets more confidence in his secondary stuff, you’ll see more of it. But if he can get away with throwing fastballs and hitting spots, I’m sure he’ll stick with that.

At the very least, Giants fans will see Escobar in a big league uniform at some point this year, starting role or not.


1. Kyle Crick, SP

Bats/Throws: R/R

Drafted: 1st round of the 2011 draft 

Age: 21

ETA: 2015

The crown jewel of the Giants’ farm system, Crick has some seriously nasty stuff, giving him the potential to develop into a bona fide ace if he can harness his control a bit.

Crick suffered from an oblique strain last season, but he still managed to strike out 95 batters in 68.2 innings of work, to go along with a 1.57 ERA. The right-hander sports a blazing fastball to go along with a hard slider, both of which serve as legitimate swing-and-miss pitches. Arnold, again per the Mercury NewsPavlovic, had plenty to say about Crick as well:

Crick is an overpowering guy. He can really challenge guys with his fastball and a lot of them can’t catch up to it at this point in time. His changeup really improved last year and now he’s just going to work on getting more consistency with his breaking ball, so hitters can’t really sit on one pitch and he can keep them guessing. (Swings on the fastball) are really just late. His fastball doesn’t move a ton but it gets on you quick. He’s one of those guys that can kind of get away with pitching up in the zone because of the velocity of his fastball. We’ll see if that translates to the upper levels.

If Crick can continue to improve his control while further developing his changeup and avoiding injury, there won’t be much preventing him from joining the Giants’ slew of aces in the majors. Barring an unexpected turn of events, Crick is a future No. 1 starter.

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10 Most Significant Moments in San Francisco Giants History

Since coming to San Francisco, the Giants have had a roller coaster ride, with moments of euphoria and crushing defeat.

Nevertheless, Giants fans will undoubtedly admit that the 21st century has been especially kind to them, especially over the last few seasons. Even so, the previous several decades weren’t so pleasant for fans out west.

Let’s take a look at some of the biggest moments for the Giants since they moved out to San Francisco.

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What the San Francisco Giants Can Expect from Michael Morse in 2014

When the San Francisco Giants signed free agent outfielder Michael Morse on Dec. 17, the move signified Brian Sabean’s desire to fix something that wasn’t entirely broken. Yes, the addition of Morse to the lineup will surely bring power that would-be starter Gregor Blanco could never provide. The Giants have also struggled in the power-hitting department as of late.

But is an influx of home runs really what the team needs? Before we get ahead of ourselves in answering that question, it should be noted that Morse isn’t even guaranteed to bring power to the Giants lineup in the first place.

While he is just two years removed from a 31-homer season, it has taken Morse each of the last two seasons combined to match that total. That’s not to mention that the ex-Nationals slugger will be moving to the pitcher’s heaven that is AT&T Park, which featured the third-lowest home run rate in the majors in 2013 (per ESPN).

However, assuming Morse overcomes his lackluster performance from last season and becomes one of the Giants’ premier power sources, will he prove to be worth his $5 million price tag even then?

Part of the reason I’m hesitant to answer “yes” is that Morse won’t prove to be a significant upgrade over Blanco. That’s primarily because of the defensive liability that Morse has proven to be throughout his career. In fact, Morse has eclipsed Blanco’s WAR of 2.5 last season just once in his career, according to, and the former’s combined WAR over the last three seasons is still less than Blanco’s 2013 WAR, per

Of course, WAR is not the all-encompassing statistic that it’s often made out to be. There’s quite a bit of value to be found in the late-inning home run that Morse will be able to provide far more often than Blanco. But with so much ground to cover in the AT&T Park outfield and the Giants’ heavy reliance on pitching, defense should often take precedence over offense in the outfield.

Despite all the potential pitfalls that the addition of Morse brings, the outlook isn’t all bad for the upcoming season. According to ZiPS, Morse is projected to compile a .719 OPS with a WAR of 1.2.

For $5 million, that’s pretty solid value, and it will almost certainly be an offensive upgrade over the alternative. Additionally, Bruce Bochy can insert Blanco into the lineup in the later innings for some defensive relief.

But perhaps the best part of the signing is the potential. Don’t forget, Morse did bat .294 with an .857 OPS in his four seasons in Washington. A return to that level of play isn’t entirely likely, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility either.

In my estimation, Morse will finish somewhere in between the aforementioned projected numbers and his pre-2013 numbers. A .265/.310/.450 slash line isn’t out of the question, and if all goes well, Morse could even approach 20 home runs.

Why those numbers? Most importantly, Morse has said he’s 100 percent healthy, according to Alex Pavlovic of the San Jose Mercury News. According to Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle, Morse has also looked fantastic this spring, and he’s happy to be playing for the Giants.

That points toward a nice rebound for Morse, albeit at the price of poor defense in left field. Even so, for $5 million, that’s a bargain.


All statistics courtesy of

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Tyler Colvin: What He Brings to the San Francisco Giants

On Saturday, the San Francisco Giants agreed to a deal with outfielder Tyler Colvin, according to Alex Pavlovic of the San Jose Mercury News. The deal is pending a physical, and the contract is a minor-league deal, according to the San Francisco Chronicle‘s Henry Schulman.

Colvin has reportedly earned a spot in big league camp as a non-roster invitee with a chance to compete for the fifth outfield spot, though he has his work cut out for him after suffering through a rough 2013 season marred by injuries and poor performance.

Indeed, Colvin is coming off a season in which he batted just .160 in 75 at bats with the Colorado Rockies, but don’t let that fool you. In 2012, he batted .290 with a solid .858 OPS in 452 plate appearances, his best season to date.

Colvin has also shown a propensity for power hitting in the past. He blasted 20 homers in just 358 at bats in 2010, his rookie season, and averages a home run every 22.9 at bats for his career. He also has solid gap-hitting ability, as indicated by his 10 triples in 2012 and above-average .454 career slugging percentage.

In my estimation, Colvin will see playing time primarily, if not entirely, against right-handed pitching. The lefty has a career .781 OPS against righties, which is certainly nothing to scoff at, but that number drops to .640 against lefties. He could prove valuable in pinch-hitting opportunities against right-handed relievers.

However, that’s assuming Colvin makes the big league club. He’ll have to put on quite a show during spring training, otherwise the most likely outlook for him is to begin the season in Triple-A. At the very least, he’ll provide an upgrade over the options the Giants had last season when their starting outfielders faltered. (Roger Kieschnick, anyone?)

Despite decent prior success, Colvin won’t work any miracles for the Giants. He’ll add some much-needed outfield depth, but not much else. He lacks discipline at the plate (career .289 OBP, 4.4 K/BB ratio) and he doesn’t play the field particularly well (career -3.3 UZR, per FanGraphs). There’s also little chance he’ll return to his 2012 level of performance because he had a batting average on balls in play (BABIP) of .364 that year, according to FanGraphs, which is 72 points higher than his career average.

That number came back down to earth last season, when Colvin struggled mightily. Unless he gets lucky again in 2014, or makes a change to his approach at the plate, he won’t approach a .290 average.

Perhaps Colvin will prove otherwise, but it appears the Giants have picked up another backup outfielder who will provide little more than some extra competition for the No. 5 outfield spot.

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San Francisco Giants’ Rotation Could Feature MLB’s Best 1-2 Punch

By now, San Francisco Giants fans have undoubtedly heard plenty about their team’s starting pitching struggles in 2013. But even with the lackluster performance that defined Giants pitching last season, there’s plenty to look forward to in 2014, particularly when it comes to the aces of the rotation.

While Madison Bumgarner shouldered the bulk of the load in 2013, Matt Cain faltered early in the season. By the time he recovered, the Giants were well out of contention. 

But given each starter’s success in the second half of the season (and Bumgarner‘s success throughout), Cain and Bumgarner could form one of the best front ends of any rotation in the majors, if not the best, in the coming seasons.

Yes, that’s a bold statement, especially when considering that the Los Angeles Dodgers have Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, and the Detroit Tigers‘ duo of Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer is potentially just as scary.

But before you write off Cain and Bumgarner, take a look at just how promising this season is for both pitchers.

Cain is the more questionable of the pair, judging from his 4.00 ERA and eight wins in 2013. But in his last 18 starts of the season, Cain recorded 14 quality starts including nine of his last 10 games.

That led to a sparkling 2.36 ERA in the second half—a total eclipsed by only eight other players in the majors with over 70 innings in that span.

Of course, the starter who ranked one spot ahead of Cain in second-half ERA, besting him by 0.06 of a point, was Bumgarner. But that wasn’t anything new for MadBum, who finished with a 2.77 mark on the season, good for eighth in the majors.

Unsurprisingly, the only other duo from one team to feature in the top 10 in second-half ERA, aside from Cain and Bumgarner, were Kershaw and Greinke who finished first and third, respectively. Those two are the current gold standard for regular-season success, but there’s also something to be said for postseason experience and success, both of which Bumgarner and Cain possess in droves.

Indeed, Bumgarner has tossed 15 scoreless frames in his World Series career, and Cain owns a 2.10 career postseason ERA thanks to his astounding 21.1 scoreless innings in 2010.

That’s something neither Kershaw nor Greinke can speak to. Those who watched the 2013 NLCS are familiar with Kershaw‘s playoff shortcomings; that was nothing new, as he’s now 0-3 with a 7.23 ERA in his NLCS career for an overall postseason 4.23 ERA.

Greinke has been just as poor, with a 4.30 ERA in 37.2 career postseason innings.

The bottom line: If you’re looking for regular season stats, Greinke and Kershaw are your guys. But for those who prefer proven success in October (as well as in the regular season), there is no better pairing than Cain and Bumgarner.

For now, the Dodgers pair of Kershaw and Greinke reigns supreme to Cain and Bumgarner overall. There’s even an argument to be made for Verlander and Scherzer‘s supremacy. But if Cain and MadBum both turn in ace-worthy numbers in 2014, their postseason numbers and sustained success over the past several seasons would make them the de facto No. 1 pitching duo in baseball.


All statistics courtesy of Fangraphs.

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Will Hunter Pence Maintain His Production in 2014?

In an otherwise painfully rough season, one of the few offensive bright spots for the San Francisco Giants in 2013 was right fielder Hunter Pence.

The Giants’ season was mostly plagued with inconsistency, and just about everyone wearing a Giants uniform was a culprit. But Pence proved to be the exception, appearing in all 162 games while compiling a .283/.339/.483 line to go along with 27 HRs, 99 RBIs and 22 stolen bases.

The question, then, becomes whether we can expect Pence to repeat his performance in 2014. The best indicator is the Giants right fielder’s steady production over the years.

Indeed, when it comes to consistency in power and run production, it doesn’t get much better than Pence. The Giants right fielder’s season lows in home runs, RBIs and runs in the last six seasons stand at 22 (2011), 72 (2009) and 76 (2009), respectively, which would be fantastic totals for just about anyone else in the Giants lineup.

In his career, Pence’s 162-game average, per, consists of 25 home runs, 94 RBIs, 87 runs and 14 steals (on top of an .815 OPS). Considering he played in all 162 games last season, it’s not a stretch to expect similar numbers in 2014.

Speaking of which, another element that defines Pence, aside from his consistency, is his rather impressive durability. He hasn’t played in fewer than 154 games in any season in the majors other than when he was called up midway through the season in 2007, his rookie year.

That means the Giants can rely on Pence to show up every day and give 110 percent, something they haven’t always been able to get out of their top hitters in the past. (i.e. Buster Posey’s injury history, Barry Bonds eclipsed 150 games just once in his last nine seasons in San Francisco.)

Pence will also hit behind Brandon Belt and Buster Posey in 2014. Belt has the potential to really break out in 2014 if he hits like he did in the second half of 2013, and Posey has high expectations after adding muscle in the offseason to combat the fatigue of catching duties that may have led to his .244 second-half average in 2013.

Pence was still able to drive in 99 runs in 2013, despite dealing with a largely inconsistent group of batters hitting ahead of him. Since coming over to the Giants, Pence has proven to be a bona fide RBI machine (144 RBIs in 221 games), but his best run producing season yet could be 2014, thanks to the guys hitting in front of him.

The most reasonable expectation for Pence is a slight dip in average, with similar numbers otherwise across the board. I’d expect NL pitchers to learn how to better handle his over-aggressiveness (which reared its ugly head at times in 2013), and Pence’s slightly-above-average .308 BABIP (per Fangraphs) could level out.

It’s also unreasonable to expect Pence to repeat his unprecedented 22 steals in 25 attempts in 2013, as his 22 swipes nearly doubled his combined total from 2011 and 2012. But double-digit steals is still a near certainty.

If you’re looking for power, run production and a clubhouse presence, Pence will once again be your guy in 2014.

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