26. Kendry Melo, RHP, Age 20
AZL Giants (R)
If you’re a Giants fan who’s been following the careers of Adalberto Mejia and Keury Mella, and you’re wondering who the next Dominican sensation might be… well, here’s your guy. Melo is a sturdy righty (6-3, 210) with no prior professional experience. According to Ben Badler, he signed with Toronto in 2011, but MLB nixed the deal after some age concerns sprung up. Two years later, he’s a Giant for the price of $500k. We think he’s 20 years old, but there’s no questioning his size and stuff. Apparently Melo was chucking fastballs up to 93 this spring in Arizona, adding in a sharp low-80’s slider (this all according to Badler) as well. He’ll likely make his debut very soon with the Giants AZL rookie club, which just started its season last night. Between he and fellow newbie Rodolfo Martinez, the organization has some very tantalizing international pitching in the desert this summer.
27. Martin Agosta, RHP, Age 23
San Jose (A+): 21.1 IP, 10.55, 35 H, 17 BB, 16 K, .376 BAA
Agosta was #4 in my mid-season rankings last summer, down ten spots to #14 in the pre-season top 50, and now out of the top 25 in June. Maybe that’s not entirely fair, as we’ve seen what he can do when he’s healthy. The problem is, he hasn’t really been healthy since last summer. Even in his roughly 5 weeks of action for San Jose during the first half, Agosta just didn’t seem right. He only lasted 5 innings twice in 7 starts, and tossed a mere 3.2 innings in his final two appearances before heading back to the DL. To be honest, I can’t find the official diagnosis anywhere, and I truly don’t remember hearing much even when he went on the DL back in May. I also don’t know how well he is progressing, and when we should expect to see him back in the San Jose rotation this year. All I know is, Agosta is a guy with incredible potential, as we saw for four months in Augusta last year. Will he be healthy enough to show us that potential again? I hope so.
(Video courtesy of Conner Penfold)
28. Blake Miller, IF, Age 24
San Jose (A+): 250 AB, .304/.356/.484, 7 HR, 52 RBI, .955 FLD%
Blake Miller – gamer, grinder, and one of my favorite players in the organization. The Giants grabbed him in the 25th round of the draft last summer out of D2 Western Oregon. He had played two years at WOU after spending his first two college seasons as the starting SS at Sac State. Turns out, all this dude does is hit no matter where he plays. After hitting at a .309 clip for Salem-Keizer (his hometown) last summer, the Giants gave him some AB’s with the big league club in spring training, then sent him straight to San Jose. He responded by becoming one of the most reliable hitters in the Giants order in the first half. While he’s a little old for the league, his season to this point is still very impressive for a player taken that late in the draft. He’s a good-sized kid, and though the roster lists him as a 1B, he’s actually played all but 6 games this year at either SS or 2B. His bat is strikeout-prone, and he’s certainly going to have to prove himself at every level. But I’d say he’s off to a nice start.
29. Ray Black, RHP, Age 23
Augusta (A): 14.1 IP, 2.51, 7 H, 4 BB, 27 K, .140 BAA
7th round pick out of Pittsburgh in 2011 never showed up in any box scores that summer. Or the next. Or the next. But Conner Penfold finally found him this spring in Arizona (video below), and wrote a great piece about his roller-coaster ride of a pro career. Turns out Black had labrum surgery, and had spent the majority of 2012 and 2013 trying to get back to full strength. Three years after he was drafted, the 6-5 beast of a reliever is finally healthy, and he’s throwing GAS in Augusta. David Lee has had him as high as 101, and he regularly works in the 96-98 range. He also throws a slider that shows plus potential at times. The Giants have been careful with him, and sent him to the DL after his shoulder flared up on him on Opening Day. He’s been absolutely dominant since returning. Look at those numbers… yep, that’s a 17.0 K/9. Personally, I don’t think he has anything to prove in the SALLY if he’s healthy. Will the Giants get him moving later this summer? I hope so. Black was one of the nicest surprises this spring, and it’s hard not to root for a guy like this. He’s a name to watch out for in the second half, and a prime candidate to shoot up this list if he keeps blowing his fastball past hitters all summer.
(Video by David Lee)
30. Hunter Strickland, RHP, Age 25
Richmond (AA): [2 levels] 12.2 IP, 3.55, 10 H, 3 BB, 18 K, .227 BA
Strickland stays in the same spot I had him in the preseason top 50. He was a minor league journeyman of sorts before coming to the Giants in 2013. He was sent to close games in San Jose, where he embarrassed Cal League hitters with a mid-90’s fastball. Tommy John surgery cut his promising season short, but the Giants made a curious move by protecting him on the 40-man. To do that for a 24 year-old pitcher who’d spent only 2 months with your organization, the front office really made a statement about this guy’s potential. He returned to action this May and made only 3 appearances in San Jose before being promoted to Richmond. Strickland has the ideal frame for a power pitcher (6-4, 220), and he’s a guy who could be in Fresno… if not the big leagues… by September.