2014 Roster Predictions: Richmond

(#) Cove Chatter 100 Ranking | *CC 100 Honorable Mention

Richmond (24) – The Eastern League only permits an active roster of 24 players.

C: *Jeff Arnold

1B: (45) Ricky Oropesa

2B: Ryan Cavan

3B: Mario Lisson

SS: (24) Matt Duffy

LF: *Devin Harris

CF: Ryan Lollis

RF: (6) Mac Williamson

DH: Mark Minicozzi

Bench: Tyler LaTorre

Bench: Myles Schroder

Bench: *Chris Lofton

SP: (1) Kyle Crick

SP: (4) Adalberto Mejia

SP: (5) Clayton Blackburn

SP: (8) Ty Blach

SP: Jose De Paula

RP: (46) Chris Marlowe

RP: *Jacob Dunnington

RP: (25) Bryce Bandilla

RP: *Jose Casilla

RP: Erik Cordier

RP: (18) Josh Osich

RP: (19) Cody Hall

Top 50: 11

Honorable Mention: 5

Thoughts: Richmond hasn’t exactly been a hot spot for Giants prospects in the past couple years (although Andrew Susac and Joe Panik were regulars last season), but that should change this summer. The Squirrels should be carried by arguably one of the top 5 rotations in all the minors. It’s all but a given that Crick, Blackburn and Blach will start the season in Richmond. I’d like to think Mejia did enough in San Jose to make the jump too, but he’s the youngest of the bunch, and it wouldn’t be an absolute shock to see him back in the Cal League for Opening Day.

I also wouldn’t be shocked to see another top arm like Chris Stratton or Kendry Flores end up in Richmond, but I do think that’s a long shot. Regardless, the fans out there in Virginia will get to see a rotation anchored by some of the finest young pitchers in the organization. I did make a slight change here, giving the number 5 spot to De Paula, the 40-man signee who’s never pitched above AA. With the logjam of pitchers ticketed for Fresno, it makes some sense to start De Paula in Richmond. That spot could go to a number of different players though.

The rotation won’t be having all the fun out there this summer either, as it’s looking like this team could have a pretty stout bullpen as well. Osich and Hall are two guys I’m very high on, but neither was invited to spring training, so I’d expect them to share the closer spot in Richmond at least to start the season. There’s not really a weak link in this pen, from a scouting standpoint. Cordier is the big, high-90’s hurler who signed a major league deal in the offseason. He could easily start the year in Fresno, but I’m guessing the Giants have some work to do with him. Bandilla is the other electric lefty in the system. He can really bring it when he’s healthy. Even Marlowe, Casilla and Dunnington are all believed to have big league caliber stuff. You just don’t see many “complete” bullpens like this, so I’m very excited to see how this Richmond staff shakes out.

On the other side, Williamson is the obvious name to watch. How does he handle the shift from Cal League to Eastern League? Frankly, I think he’ll be just fine. He’s an East Coast guy, so it’s not like the cooler spring temperatures should phase him like they can with guys who aren’t accustomed to it. History says it would be foolish to expect a repeat of his season in San Jose, but I do think he’ll do enough at the plate to be in Fresno by next year. A mid-season promotion would be very, very nice.

A couple more guys to keep an eye on here: Duffy seems to have the inside track to AA, without any real offensive talent in front of him. Can he stick at short? Lisson is a guy I’m intrigued by, and why shouldn’t I be after he’s been hitting moon shots in the VWL playoffs? With Duvall and Dominguez handling 3B in Fresno, Richmond seems like a logical landing spot for the independent league signee.

Richmond struggled for a good chunk of the season last year, but was much improved after the promotions of Hall, Osich, Edwin Escobar and Angel Villalona. They did make somewhat of a surge down the stretch, but it wasn’t enough to make the playoffs or crack .500. That should change this season though, as the pitching staff alone should be enough to carry this team for most of the year (with 7 of the organization’s top 25 prospects). If Crick pitches the way I think he will, this could be one of the top AA teams the Giants have had in a number of years. With that kind of pitching, what’s not to like?!

Squirrels’ Hall has fresh-arm advantage out of bullpen

(DEAN HOFFMEYER/TIMES-DISPATCH)

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