Cove Chatter 2016 Top Prospects: #26-29

Stratton | Photo Credit: Ralph Thompson/Sacramento River Cats

#26: Chris Stratton, RHP, Age 25: The former SEC ace has plugged along through the organization since 2012, but the results just haven’t matched the potential for a top 20 draft pick. Stratton’s a taller guy (6-3) with a track record of taking the ball (topping 120 IP in each of his 3 full seasons), and the Giants still think highly of him. He’s also a man of tremendous character, and someone who it’s nearly impossible to root against. He made 17 starts in AAA last year, and I have little doubt he’ll be a big leaguer at some point down the road.

At this point, however, there are many reasons why I can’t rank Stratton higher on the list. For one, his velocity as a professional hasn’t approached what it was during his junior year at Mississippi State. It’s certainly worth bringing up the concussion he suffered on the field just weeks after his pro debut, but for whatever reason, he’s mostly been a 2-seam guy topping out around 92 since draft day. Stratton does still have one of the better sliders in the system, but one of the knocks on him is that he’s had trouble establishing the inside part of the plate. Right now, it’s hard to determine whether he ultimately lands in the back of a MLB rotation, the middle of a bullpen (I envision him a bit in the George Kontos mold), or whether he spends most of his career in AAA. I don’t have a crystal ball, but I can tell you I’m sure rooting for him to outperform the expectations.

#27: Joan Gregorio, RHP, Age 24: For someone who closely monitors box scores at every level of the system, I have to admit I kind of fell asleep on Gregorio last year. I was well aware of his profile (6-ft-7 string bean with a 92-96 fastball), but I lost track of him a bit when the Giants sent him to pitch in the Richmond bullpen one season after failing to establish himself in San Jose. The move was almost certainly the product of Gregorio being placed on the 40-man roster for Rule 5 protection last winter, as the organization likely wanted to see if he could compete at the upper levels.

It turns out he can, and his overall numbers in the Eastern League really weren’t bad (78.2 IP, 3.09, 3.7 bb/9, 8.2 k/9). He was actually placed into the Squirrels’ rotation toward the end of the year, and logged a 2.34 ERA in 42.1 IP (9 starts). What’s holding Gregorio back at this point is his durability, and it’s been a trend throughout his career. He’s been in the organization for 6 years, yet he’s pitched only 439 innings. He’s almost 24, and though it’s hard to see him becoming a front-line pitcher at this point, you have to believe Gregorio could still provide value as a back-end starter or hard-throwing reliever, especially if he can manage to finally put some weight on his frame.

Derek Law
Law | Photo Credit: Unknown

#28: Derek Law, RHP, Age 25: Law came out of nowhere to dominate the Cal League in 2013, and was so close to making the Giants 25-man roster out of spring training in 2014. Instead he was assigned to close games in Richmond, where he did until forearm stiffness and Tommy John surgery ultimately cost him the next calendar year.

Law returned to the AA closer’s role last summer, and despite a few inconsistent outings he still maintained an solid 4.0 k/bb mark. The 6-ft-2 righty and former 9th round pick attacks hitters with a jerky rotation that features a Johnny Cueto-like upper body rotation and an over the top release. Before his surgery, his fastball was reported in the low-90’s and reaching 96, but his biggest weapon was arguably his biting curveball. It’s a thing of beauty when he locates it. The lost season definitely hurt his stock some, but I think Law still has late-inning MLB potential in his arm, and I think we’ll be hearing from him again in 2016.

#29: C.J. Hinojosa, SS, Age 21: The Giants drafted Univ. of Texas SS Hinojosa with their 11th round pick in what some analysts are calling THE sleeper pick of the 2015 draft. The shorter (some sites list him at 5-9, others 5-11) middle infielder has been on the professional radar since his high school days, when he was regarded as one of the better defensive SS in the class. His hard commitment to Texas slid him to the 26th round, where the Astros took a flier on the local kid.

Hinojosa locked down the Longhorns’ shortstop gig from the minute he stepped on campus, starting 172 games at the position during his 3 year career. He hit .309 as a freshman, and looked to be headed for college stardom. He couldn’t keep it up over the next two seasons, though, as his average fell slightly in 2014, then took a major dip last summer (.242). He did hit 7 HR as a junior though, after hitting only 4 combined the previous two years.

Once signed, the Giants sent Hinojosa straight to Salem-Keizer. He hit well there, flirting with .300 while knocking 5 HR in only 200 PA. He didn’t walk or strike out much, but also committed 14 errors before an injury cut his season short. Overall, he reminds me some of Brandon Crawford… a guy with major draft hype who didn’t quite perform up to it in college. He doesn’t have Crawford’s size, and I don’t know much about his defense, but he’s definitely one of the more intriguing names to follow from the 2015 class.


5 thoughts on “Cove Chatter 2016 Top Prospects: #26-29”

  1. CJ Hinojosa-He looks like he’s closer to 5’9″ than 5’11”.He played SS last year in SK.In one of his prospect videos from the Cape.He’s playing 3B.I see him battling w/Tomlinson in the future,for one of the bench spots.Video clip from a SK game.Shows him hitting a double down the right field line.His batting stance reminded me of Scutaro’s.Looks like the approach is similar.Scutaro obviously the better player.Hinojosa looks like he might have more power.Another steal of the draft pick for Giant scouts.Slater,and Hinojosa.

    Derek Law-Good to have Law back from injury.Should start the season in Sacramento.Another bullpen arm to add to our depth.

    Joan Gregorio-Slow developer so far.Bullpen future seems likely.

    Chris Stratton-Has some good starts in Sacramento.I agree about his future roll.Long reliever,with the ability to go multiple innings.And,pitch on back to back days.Starter background will prepare him for that role.Hope he can get that 96 mph back.Piching inside has to do with overcoming the concussion.That will be the key to him reaching his ceiling.

    Peace Cove

  2. Nice list mr. cc! Short thoughts.

    -Hinojosa might be one of those sneaky guys that don’t post good college numbers but just turn it on once he became pro.

    -I don’t really feel the vibe of Gregorio. I feel he will be stuck in the Minors for a couple more years due to his durability. I can only see him as a reliever.

    Great movements so far on your list!

  3. A. I really like Derek Law and would have him in the Top-20. He’s got fantastic control despite the funky delivery. He’s got a wipe-out curve ball. His sinker camps in the low 90s. And his slider is a decent third pitch. Plus that funky delivery of his really adds a lot of deception to his already good pitches, especially that wipe-out curve ball of his.

    And when he didn’t make the 25-man in 2014 I was really bummed because I thought he was better than some who did. But I have to admit fan bias because, for whatever reason, he’s one of my favorite prospects.

    B. Stratton continues his slide. And while I hope for (and wish him) the best, like I do all prospects, I think this is his make-or-break year and either he steps up and shows he can (it’s been 3, or maybe 4, years since the concussion) attack batters and own the strike zone instead of being an outside-half nibbler or he’s doomed to a life of AAA roster-filler like any other top-rated prospect that, for whatever reason, never could get it together but clubs won’t move out.

  4. ahhh man, poor Chris Stratton. Plugging along, doing okay, but not enough wow. I’ve seen him twice, once in Visalia and once in Fresno and the 91-92 FB just looks pedestrian and hittable. But hey, Tyler Beede didn’t wow with his fastball either. Hope Bickford delivers.

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