San Francisco Giants Top 2016 Prospects: #11
#11: Sam Coonrod, RHP, Age 23: Coonrod was a flamethrowing righty (pre-draft reports had him up to 98) with very poor command during his 3-year career at Southern Illinois. He made 15 starts in his junior season, logging a 2.87 ERA and an 8.2 K/9. His walk rate, however, was 5 per 9 for the second consecutive year.
The Giants made Coonrod their 5th round pick in 2014, and his first full season in Augusta (2015) was a solid one. In 22 starts – 111.2 IP, 3.14 ERA, 8.3 H/9, 9.2 K/9, 2.7 BB/9. His average Game Score (GSc) for the Greenjackets was a 54.3 (50-52 is average), and his Game Score W-L record was 13-6, with 3 ND. His best outing of the year, by GSc, was an 8-IP, 3-hitter with 6 K on July 20 (80 GSc). His most dominant start, however, was a 10-K, 2-hit effort over 7 IP on June 9 (77 GSc). Both of those performances came on the road, where Sam was actually quite a bit stronger in 2015.
He was promoted to San Jose for the postseason, where he made 2 appearances (1 start), allowing 3 ER over 9 IP.
Coonrod’s walk rate improvement was a huge development for the organization in 2015. He pairs his plus fastball with an above average slider, but I was under the impression he profiled better as a reliever when the Giants drafted him. His showing in Augusta definitely changed that notion for the time being, and it earned him no shortage of praise from opposing managers, who named him SAL Pitcher of the Year. The Giants were watching too, and offered him an invitation to MLB spring camp.
Coonrod has been consistently ranked in the organization’s top 10 by major publications this winter, so I’m sure this ranking will feel a little low. I don’t see this spot as a knock on him at all, however. As mentioned earlier, his 2015 was a good one, but Chase Johnson posted very similar numbers one level higher in San Jose. At the moment, I want to see how Coonrod builds on his success in 2016 before I enter him into my top 10. Without a doubt, he gives the Giants yet another hard throwing arm to be excited about as we head into spring training.