San Francisco Giants Honorable Mention Prospects (Sorted by age for 2016 season)
Dan Slania, RHP, 23: Big Dan goes at 6-ft-5, 275, and sports a low-90’s fastball. The Giants plucked him in the 5th round (2013) after a successful career as a closer at Notre Dame. Even in college, his strikeout numbers were never all that impressive. That changed last season in San Jose, however, when he posted career-best K/9 (11.4) and BB/9 (1.9) rates over 71 IP. The Giants sent him to the Arizona Fall League, where he struck out 15 and allowed only 3 ER over 12 IP for champion Scottsdale. At this point, he’s just a slot or two outside my top 50.
Ty Ross, C, 24: Defensive-minded catcher was a system sleeper for me heading into last year. He’s got a little pop, but only hit .244 with 3 HR while sharing time in San Jose. I can still see an MLB spot in his future, even if it’s only a backup role.
Brian Ragira, 1B, 24: Ragira was asked to repeat San Jose in 2015, and most of his offensive statistics were in line with his 2014 performance. Problem is, his average dropped 10 points (in 10 less games played), he drove in 25 less runs, and his HR total was cut in half. As a 1B-only guy at this point, he’ll have to hit more than 10 out of the park if he wants to make it to the upper levels.
Cristian Paulino, OF, 24: Smaller guy heading into his 7th season with the organization. He doesn’t hit for power, but he has shown a very interesting combination of the other 4 tools, if only in short bursts during his career. Durability has been a huge issue for him, as he’s never played more than 92 games in a season. Was on a roll in Augusta last season before injuries caught up with him again.
Hak-Ju Lee, SS, 25: Giants signed one of the top 50 prospects in MLB (2012) to a minor league deal this winter. He suffered a brutal leg injury in 2013 and has never really bounced back. He did steal 20 bases in Durham last season, but he hasn’t hit better than .220 in two tries at AAA. A very low-risk signing for a guy with interesting tools.
Ben Turner, C, 25: I’ve been intrigued by Turner for a few years now. He’s tall (6-ft-5), especially for a backstop, but he’s shown an ability to put the ball in play during his pro career. He rarely strikes out (8.7%, 1,144 plate appearances), and seems to hold his own defensively. I was almost certain he was headed to SF last September, but the opportunity ultimately went to Trevor Brown.
Tyler Horan, OF, 25: Horan was #20 on my preseason list last winter, and I’ll likely pay the price when he bounces back in 2016. It’s hard to overlook his struggles in San Jose last summer, though injuries certainly played a role. He has big power from the left side (25 HR in 2014), and will probably head back to the Cal League after hitting only .215 in 94 games a season ago.
Jose Reyes, RHP, 25: I profiled Reyes last spring after he opened the season on fire in Augusta. The Giants quickly sent him to San Jose, where his low-90’s (topping at 96) fastball and curve combination weren’t nearly as effective. He did find some success over the season’s final month and a half, while easily logging a career high for innings pitched. If he can replicate his Augusta numbers at higher levels, he could be heading places. For now, he’s an arm with intriguing stuff, probably worth filing in your mind just in case.
Christian Jones, LHP, 25: Danville native and former Oregon southpaw keeps grinding. As SP depth in the organization increased, Jones found himself mostly in a relief role for San Jose in 2015. He had some early round draft hype in 2011 before going under the knife, and there’s a low-90’s fastball in there that may play up in shorter stints. He set a career mark for K rate last year as well (9.4 K/9).
Jason Forjet, RHP, 26: He’s been with the organization for 4 seasons (31st round pick in 2012), and he’s continued to rise despite never completely being handed the keys to the car. He reminds me of Joe Biagini, the righty who plugged along for years before Toronto selected him in the Rule 5 draft this winter. Forjet was solid while starting for San Jose last season, and his performance came to a head in September, when he K’d 10 over 8 shutout innings. There should be plenty of talent in the Richmond rotation next spring (Tyler Beede and Chase Johnson are likely candidates), but I fully expect the veteran Forjet to be right there with them when things shake out.
Ricky Oropesa, 1B, 26: The former 3rd rounder out of USC took a nice step forward in 2015, hitting 17 HR in 131 games for Richmond. His previous two tries at AA hadn’t gone well at all (he was demoted back to San Jose in 2013, hit .241 with 5 HR in 2014), so his ’15 campaign would seem to be enough to move him up to Sacramento next spring. At 26, there’s certainly still time for Oropesa to show he can provide MLB value. As a 1B though, he has to keep hitting if he wants to make it.
Matt Lujan, LHP, 27: Still one of my favorite players in the organization, Lujan keeps grinding his way up the ladder. The Stockton native and former USF stalwart logged a 3.18 ERA and 7.4 K/9 in 20 starts for Richmond last season, likely putting himself in the mix for a crowded 2016 rotation spot in Sacramento. He’s also a story of commitment and perseverance, as a UCL tear ruined his hopes of being drafted in 2011. The Giants signed him a year later, and he’s posted respectable numbers from the left side at every stop over the past 4 seasons. His teammates say he’s one of the hardest working guys in the organization, and in the interviews I’ve heard him give he sounds incredibly focused on his craft. He’s playing overseas this winter, trying to up his innings count for the year. Consider him #51 on my list.
Carlos Moncrief, OF, 27: The Giants have had a lot of success with minor league signings, waiver claims, etc. in recent seasons. That trend may well continue with 2015 offseason pickups like Kyle Blanks, Gorkys Hernandez, and Moncrief. The son of a former minor league pitcher, Moncrief is a stout, athletic player drafted by Cleveland (14th round) in 2008. He broke into professional baseball as a pitcher, but in 2010 pleaded with the organization to let him hit. He moved to the outfield, and has hit .253/.340/.427 with 76 HR and 78 SB during his minors career. He was considered a candidate for an MLB spot last winter, but didn’t get the call and ultimately had a tough season at AAA. He’ll be competing with the aforementioned Blanks & Hernandez, as well as guys like Jarrett Parker and Mac Williamson for roster spots next spring, but it would be a cool story to see him finally break through to the Show.