Tag: San Francisco Bay Area

Top 20 Athletes in the History of the Bay Area

The Bay Area is one of the most beautiful and important sports areas in the country. Covering three major cities—Oakland, San Francisco and San Jose—the Bay Area has played home to some of the most prestigious franchises around.

By now, you know the drill. The point of this slideshow is to hone in and talk about the top 20 athletes in the history of the Bay Area.

Deciding who makes the cut comes down to statistics, championships won and overall legacy. With all of that info seeping into your cranium, let’s get right into it and start the countdown.

Begin Slideshow

As Bochy Works to Put Pieces Together, Giants Will Live or Die with Pitching

SAN FRANCISCO — One night after Madison Bumgarner lit up AT&T Park by taking a perfect game into the eighth inning, Tim Hudson was electric. Stretch-run energy buzzed through the Giants clubhouse in that old, familiar way.

“This is the fun time of year,” Buster Posey said after blasting the second walk-off homer of his career. “We’re fortunate to be fighting for the division.   

“A lot of us know what we’re capable of doing if we do get into the playoffs.”


But this is a tricky team to decipher, one of the most difficult to peg of manager Bruce Bochy’s 20-year managerial career.

“I’d say so,” Bochy agreed in that gruff, bear-like voice that has directed so many past winners.

No doubt, key injuries have derailed the Giants. He might not be a marquee name nationally, but it is no coincidence that San Francisco’s swan dive from those heady days of leading the NL West by 9.5 games (June 8) coincided with leadoff hitter Angel Pagan’s two-month absence with a back injury.

Brandon Belt’s frequent trips to the DL, Hector Sanchez’s concussion and the Giants’ decision to not add significant payroll at the trading deadline this year have opened some holes and limited their ability to plug others, stretching a thin lineup to the point of breaking.

But where the old Giants magic is really lacking is on the mound, with Matt Cain out for the season, Tim Lincecum in a funk, Sergio Romo barred from closing and a rotation that is tied for eighth in the NL with a 3.68 ERA.

Bottom line: Unlike the old days here, San Francisco’s pitching is no longer good enough to cover lineup shortcomings.

Which is why this week’s hit parade of Bumgarner, Hudson and Yusmeiro Petit, who set a major league record by retiring his 46th consecutive hitter Thursday afternoon, at least offered encouragement.

“It’s been a roller coaster, no question,” said Hudson, 39, now 9-9 with a 2.90 ERA. “Anytime you lose one of your top rotation guys.”

“He gets that blood-in-the-water sensation whenever he gets a lead,” reliever Jeremy Affeldt said of Cain. “He’s not going to lose it.”

The Giants staff has already lost enough this season.

Cain has been as big a fixture at AT&T as that ginormous Coca-Cola bottle beyond the left field stands. He made 30 or more starts in eight consecutive seasons before he had to pull the plug this summer after 15. Surgery to remove bone chips and have some bone spurs cleaned up was done earlier this month. Given his workload over the years, it could have been worse. Much worse.

As for Lincecum, the Giants should be deeply concerned with him given his 9.49 ERA over his past six starts. Everybody agrees a time out is in order.

“Just trying to take it slow,” Lincecum said. “Day by day and see where it goes.”

The immensely likeable Lincecum can be easily derailed, which is leading some to wonder whether the absence of Sanchez, who likely is out for the season with a concussion, has sent him spinning off his axis. Remember, it took Lincecum a bit to gather his wits when the Giants traded one of his favorite catchers, Bengie Molina, in 2010 to clear space for Posey.

“It’s a good question,” Bochy said of the Sanchez-Lincecum connection. “It’s a hard one to answer because I know Tim got used to throwing to Hector. Nothing against the kid, [Andrew] Susac, who has done a nice job. But whether that did play into a part of Tim’s struggles, I don’t know.”

It is not the only mystery Bochy and the Giants must solve. The phenomenal pitching that carried them to World Series wins in 2010 and ’12 is fading. This year’s rotation, as noted, is tied for eighth in the NL in ERA after finishing 13th (4.37) in 2013.

That may be an improvement, but from ’09 to ’12, Giants starters never ranked worse than fifth in the league, and they ranked either second or third in three of those four seasons.

Still, as of Thursday, the Giants are a playoff team. Though they trail the Dodgers by 4.5 games in the NL West, they doggedly cling to the NL’s second wild-card slot, 1.5 games ahead of the Braves.

This is all part of why Posey uses the word “fortunate” when describing his team’s positioning right now.

Veteran Jake Peavy was acquired from Boston to pitch. With Cain out, he’s a necessity. Petit has replaced Lincecum in the rotation—for how long, Bochy cannot yet say. He simply doesn’t know. The veteran manager, whose 1,600th career win Wednesday moved him past Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda to No. 19 on the all-time list, has had success in the past shuffling the rotation with guys such as Barry Zito and Ryan Vogelsong.

“When you get diminishing returns, you’ve got to change it up,” Bochy said, and so he has.

Scouts were still raving about Bumgarner’s dominance a day after he throttled the Rockies. Hudson, Petit…things are beginning to perk back up around San Francisco. Every day left on the schedule is another day for the Giants to minimize the damage done by their 10-16 June, 12-14 July and their 12-24 record over their past 36 home games.

As Affeldt said, “Baseball can turn around in a hurry if you don’t tuck your tail between your legs. If you get knocked down seven times, you’ve got to get up that eighth time.”


Scott Miller covers Major League Baseball as a national columnist for Bleacher Report. He has over two decades of experience covering MLB, including 14 years as a national baseball columnist at CBSSports.com.

Follow Scott on Twitter and talk baseball @ScottMillerBbl.

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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 MLB.com—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. MLB.com’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 MLB.com’s top 20 list of Giants prospects. While there’s no real consensus about the team’s actual top 10 prospects, MLB.com’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 MLB.com, 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 baseball-reference.com, and the former’s combined WAR over the last three seasons is still less than Blanco’s 2013 WAR, per baseball-reference.com.

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 baseball-reference.com.

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San Francisco Giants’ 2014 Season Preview: Predicting Each SP’s Numbers

If you followed the San Francisco Giants in 2013, you’re probably well aware that the production from the starting rotation dipped so dramatically that the then-reigning champs saw a 32-point increase in their team ERA, including an 80-point jump from 2011.

But Barry Zito and his 9.56 road ERA are gone, and veteran Tim Hudson is in as the replacement. Add in Matt Cain’s second-half success (more on that in a second) and Tim Lincecum’s continuous improvement, and the outlook is relatively bright for the once-heralded Giants rotation. Let’s take a look at what to expect from the five starters in 2014.


Matt Cain

Cain’s numbers from 2013 are a bit deceiving when trying to project his 2014 totals. Yes, his 4.00 ERA was alarmingly high, but consider this: After the All-Star break, Cain had a 2.36 ERA.

Why did the Giants righty make such a drastic improvement? Quite simply, Cain regained his command in the second half. According to FanGraphs, his walk rate dipped from 7.9 to 6.1, and he allowed just 0.87 home runs per nine innings, a huge dip from the 1.29 total that marked his disastrous first half.

That’s a testament to Cain’s ability to better locate the ball in the strike zone, an inability that plagued him in the first half to the tune of 16 home runs allowed.

Don’t expect Cain to come close to matching those fantastic second-half totals this season; he stranded an astonishing 84.5 percent of runners after the break, a total he can’t match for an entire season. With that being said, expect Cain to once again return to ace-like form.

Projection: 14-7, 3.05 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 175 Ks



Madison Bumgarner

There’s not much to say about Bumgarner, except that the Giants could have used four more of him in 2013. The young lefty stepped in as the staff ace when the rest of the staff faltered, and he put together a 2.77 ERA with a minuscule .199 opponents’ batting average.

Opponents also had a .251 batting average on balls in play (BABIP) against Bumgarner, fifth-lowest in the majors according to FanGraphs. Conventional wisdom says that total will start to move upward toward the league average, but I’d argue that we can expect a similar BABIP, and thus a similar overall level of dominance, from MadBum in 2014.

Why? Because Bumgarner still possesses his nasty arsenal of pitches, and when he doesn’t strike out batters, they’re often weakly rolling over his pitches, as evidenced by MadBum‘s 46.8 ground ball percentage.

“I love the way he goes about it. No emotion,” said Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, per Henry Schulman of The San Francisco Chronicle. “He just goes out there and competes. On the field, you just like to see that mentality. He gives up eight, or he shuts them out, and you see no difference in his attitude and mind-set.”

Manager Bruce Bochy has similar admiration for MadBum.

“I don’t put a ceiling on this kid,” Bochy said, per Schulman. “What he did in 2010, how he handled the playoffs and the World Series, he’s got a great makeup. He’s a big, strong guy who wants to get better.”

That drive to succeed, combined with a near-unhittable repertoire of pitches and promising statistical trends, all point toward another dominant season from Bumgarner.

Projection: 17-8, 2.80 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 210 Ks


Tim Lincecum

Once the ace of the staff, Lincecum is now the most unpredictable starter in the rotation. Gone are the days of accolades and record numbers, but can The Freak return to respectability?

After posting an MLB-worst 5.18 ERA in 2011, Lincecum lowered that total by 81 points last season. As he learns to pitch around hitters instead of trying to blow them away, he will continue to experience growing pains, as we’ve witnessed during the last few seasons. But those growing pains are becoming increasingly infrequent, and the improvement that we’ve seen from Timmy is a testament to that hard work.

There’s also some evidence that points toward a bit of bad luck for Lincecum in 2013. He stranded only 69.4 percent of runners last season, according to FanGraphs, the 10th-lowest total in the majors, and a number that should even out a bit this year. Lincecum also had the 28th-highest BABIP in the majors last season, again a total that could level out a bit.

That doesn’t let him off the hook, but it’s an indication that he could move closer yet to becoming an average MLB starter, which is essentially all the Giants are asking. Though, with the $35 million the club will owe him over the next two seasons, it certainly wouldn’t hurt if he reverted to his Cy Young-worthy performance. (Not going to happen.)

Projection: 11-12, 3.85 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 215 Ks


Tim Hudson

Hudson is coming off a pretty severe injury to his right ankle, so don’t expect any miracles this season. However, consistency is the name of the game when it comes to Hudson’s career, and you can expect more of the same in 2014.

Indeed, the veteran right-hander has never compiled a non-winning season, failing to eclipse a .600 winning percentage only twice in 15 seasons. He also hasn’t had an ERA above 4.00 since 2006, a number he’s reached just twice in his career.

Hudson is now back in the Bay Area, and he’ll once again pitch in a favorable pitcher’s park. (He compiled a 92-39 record in six seasons with the Oakland A’s at the cavernous Oakland Coliseum.) 

According to an Associated Press report, via ESPN, Hudson is progressing reasonably well in his return. He “looked good,” according to Buster Posey, and Bruce Bochy praised the veteran’s mechanics.

“He had a smooth, easy delivery, the same I’ve seen over the years,” Bochy said. “I don’t see him changing anything.”

Assuming Hudson returns from injury in time for the season and doesn’t experience much trouble regaining form, he’s primed for a nice return to the Bay Area.

Projection: 12-9, 3.75 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 120 Ks


Ryan Vogelsong

Perhaps the only pitcher in the rotation who rivals the unpredictable nature of Lincecum is Vogelsong. It’s hard to draw much from the small sample size that constituted Vogelsong‘s 2013 season, but he struggled mightily when he did pitch.

The safe pick would be to project something in between Vogey’s 2013 numbers (5.73 ERA, 1.56 WHIP) and his 2012 totals (3.37, 1.23), but I’m going to go out on a limb and expect a return to 2012 form.

Why? For one, Vogelsong is a true competitor, and he’s talked about how he shoulders the blame for 2013’s failures and how he expects to improve. I also wrote recently that Vogelsong won’t have the expectations that followed his 2011 and 2012 success, thanks to his down season and the Giants’ overall lackluster performance. He’ll begin the season as the No. 5 starter in the rotation, meaning the Giants won’t be asking much of him.

Speaking of the Giants’ down year, another positive that can be drawn from the failure is the additional rest that the starters received due to their lack of participation in the postseason. Perhaps that time off is just what Vogelsong (and the rest of the staff) needs to come out firing in 2014.

Projection: 13-8, 3.55 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 130 Ks

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