Organizational Pitching Depth: Grizzly Edition

The Giants have learned the hard way this season that there’s no such thing as too much pitching. Viewed as pitching gurus over the past few seasons, the Giants’ brass saw their 2013 staff fall far short of expectations due to a combination of inconsistency and injury, with fatigue almost certainly lending a hand as well. While we’ve seen first-hand that there aren’t any major impact arms on the way to San Francisco at the current time, the organization is still loaded with pitching talent in the lower minors. That being said, I thought we’d take a look at some of the noteworthy pitchers from each level in the Giants’ farm system, beginning with Fresno. I’ve added their current stats, as well as a quick blurb and a positional overview at the end. I hope this series will show that the Giants do still know how to find and develop pitching talent, and still have as many solid prospects as ever in the system – even a few at the higher levels as well. As always, I appreciate any feedback, and would love your response to my thoughts.

*The player’s name is followed by the arm they throw with, followed by their age in parenthesis. Statistics are for the entire season and combine levels.

FRESNO

The Top

Heath Hembree – R (24): 27 sv, 4.07 era, 48.2 ip, 8.9 h/9, 2.8 bb/9, 10.7 k/9 – Still throws the big fastball by hitters, but he’s giving up too many hits. Needs a 40-man spot to open up before he can get a call to the show.

Mike Kickham – L (24): 5.36 era, 122.2 ip, 9.5 h/9, 4.0 bb/9, 7.5 k/9 – Electric but wild. ML debut didn’t go so well. Pitching better in Fresno of late.

Eric Surkamp – L (26): 3.65 era, 66.2 ip, 8.2 h/9, 2.3 bb/9, 7.3 k/9 – Recovering nicely from TJ surgery. Knocked around in emergency ML start against Cincy. Hoping to challenge for SF rotation spot next spring.

The Rest

Jake DunningR (25): 1.95 era, 60 ip, 8.5 h/9, 2.5 bb/9, 7.5 k/9 – Looked good in his time with the big club this summer. Could be back in SF next month.

Dan RunzlerL (28): 5.81 era, 48 ip, 9.4 h/9, 5.8 bb/9, 8.4 k/9High velocity arm from the left side, but can’t seem to control it anymore. How much longer will the Giants keep him in the system?

Justin Fitzgerald – R (27): 3.74 era, 91.1 ip, 9.8 h/9, 3.3 bb/9, 8.7 k/9 – Started season in AA. Pitch to contact guy from UC Davis. Long shot, but he’s made adjustments at every level.

Brett Bochy – R (25): 1 sv, 4.12 era, 48 ip, 8.2 h/9, 2.6 bb/9, 9.2 k/9 – Manager’s kid has advanced through each level in the system, but needs to keep making adjustments if he wants a shot someday.

Overview: The Giants’ top pitching talent is obviously in the lower minors, but there are still some guys on the Fresno staff who could impact the Giants as soon as September. Surkamp and Kickham will certainly be given an opportunity to earn a roster spot next spring. Surkamp looks to follow the path of another crafty lefty on his way out of the Bay Area, Zito. Kickham needs to harness his control, otherwise I see him as a poor man’s Johnathan Sanchez. Hembree should be in San Francisco at this point, and I’m really not sure why he wasn’t put on the 40-man. He’s still very much a top prospect, but you don’t throw high 90-s your whole career, so it’s time to see what he’s got. Dunning will likely be back soon, fighting for a pen spot next year. Bochy and Fitzgerald are long shots. Runzler is runzling out of time.

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3 thoughts on “Organizational Pitching Depth: Grizzly Edition”

  1. Between Surkamp, Kickham and Escobar I think the Giants can afford to say adios to Zito and use the $11 M in saving somewhere else. I would be comfortable with those 3 competing for the #5 SP slot in spring training. There’s always Moscoso too. Is it too much of a stretch to think Sandy Rosario might make a pretty good starter? If they can get Timmy to bite on a qualifying offer, that’s another $6 M saved. If they can re-sign Gaudin for a reasonable price they might think about buying out Vogey’s option and saving another few $ M.

    Add all that up and it’s enough savings to make a serious run at Robinson Cano! I’ll say this about Cano, though. Look at the dimensions of Yankee Stadium and AT&T Park. He ain’t coming here! Shin Soo Choo would become a very reasonable target and he would be perfect in LF and leading off for the Giants next year.

    I read somewhere recently that Surkamp had not been allowed to throw sliders until about 2 games ago, so it’s possible we are just starting to see the real post-TJ Surkamp.

    Then, the whole contingent of young pitchers in SJ move up to AA next year and we’ll be able to hear the hoofbeats of the cavalry. It will be interesting to see where Stratton and Agosta get assigned next year too.

    As for the bullpen, between Hembree, Dunning and Cody Hall, I don’t think the Giants need to invest in the right side. On the left side, they probably need to try to re-sign Lopez though, and he won’t come cheap.

  2. The Giants definitely still have the pieces for a strong pitching staff, as they’ve shown recently. Depending on how the chips fall this winter, we could be set up pretty nice… however, if Timmy signs elsewhere and Vogelsong doesn’t find his velocity, we could also see ourselves in pretty big trouble. If Bumgarner and Cain can be leaders at the top, you’d have to think we’ll be just fine.

    Surkamp and Kickham have been dealing lately. Kickham with 8 K’s last night in another nice start. There’s really no reason those 2 shouldn’t get some action in SF next month. I’d like to see Hembree called up ASAP (ERA is finally under 4), and I think Cody Hall could get the bump to Fresno, with an invite to spring training next year.

    Thanks for reading!

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