Mid-Season Top 40 Prospects: #20

#20. Stephen Johnson – RHP, 22 yo, Lo-A: This list is full of bullpen arms with big fastballs. What separates Johnson from some of the other guys here is his velocity, which was regularly hitting 100 on the gun during his days at D-II St. Edwards. The Giants took him with a 6th round pick in the ’12 draft, but I’m not sure if he’s still lighting up triple digit heat or not. He’s been used strictly out of the bullpen as a pro, and really hasn’t had a ton of success in the low levels. With that type of fastball, he’s going to have a high k-rate, which he does this year (11.4 k/9). But his walk/9 rate of 5.3 is way too high, and a 5.57 ERA in 32 innings makes you think he doesn’t have much of a breaking ball at this point. If he can develop one at some point, however, he may take off. You don’t find guys who can crank it up like that too often.

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Mid-Season Top 40 Prospects (21-22)

#21A: Bryce Bandilla – LHP, 23 yo, Hi-A: A bit of a caveat here, as I realized way too late that I had forgotten Bandilla. Rather than re-ordering the entire list, I decided to make him the first player outside the top 20. Bandilla is a sturdy lefty (6’4”, 235) drafted out of the University of Arizona in 2011. After using him primarily as a starter in his first professional season, the Giants decided to move him to the bullpen full-time this year. He’s been a strikeout machine in San Jose, sitting down 69 batters in 41 innings. He’s also walked 22, and owns a 4.7 bb/9 through his first 99 career innings, so he may not always know where the ball is going. 97 mph f from the left side will certainly make up for the lack of control at this point.

#21B. Adam Duvall – 3B, 24 yo, AA: Duvall is a hitter in the Giants organization who is really growing on me. The Giants took him in the 11th round of the 2010 draft out of Louisville, and he’s hit for big power at every stop he’s made. He opened a lot of eyes with a 30-HR campaign in Hi-A San Jose last season, and he really started the year on a tear in AA Richmond this year.  He missed quite a bit of time with an injury, and his numbers have evened out since returning, but 7 HR and an .815 OPS in the pitcher-heavy Eastern League are still very promising numbers. He’s considered a below-average defender at third, but his bat could make him a productive first-baseman if the Giants decide to move him there.

#22. Angel Villalona – 1B, 22 yo, AA: Villalona earned a franchise record $2.1 million signing bonus as a 16 year-old from the Dominican Republic in what seems like ages ago. He was a Baseball America top-50 prospect with elite power potential as recently as 2009, but missed 3 years of development after involving himself in a murder scandal in the DR. The Giants weren’t willing to give up on their large investment, who played the first half of 2013 in San Jose  and showed some of the same power he was known for as a “baby.” If he can develop some plate discipline, Villalona still has a chance to work his way up the ladder.

Mid-Season Top 40 Prospects (23-25)

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#23. Ryder Jones – 3B, 19 yo, R: Jones, the Giants 2nd round pick in this year’s draft, broke a commitment to Stanford (which is very rare) to sign a big-league contract. He’s listed at 6’2”, 200 lbs on MiLB.com, and was a highly regarded shortstop and pitcher at Watauga High School in NC. He’s a left-handed hitter and a coach’s son (his dad is the head baseball coach at Appalachian State). Little things like that are big for me, and I imagine Jones being the type of player who’s a leader on the field. He’s an unknown at this point, as the experts considered him a great reach in the 2nd round, but his 11 HR during his senior year are pretty impressive. It’ll be interesting to watch Jones and Christian Arroyo grow together.

#24. Ty Blach – LHP, 22 yo, Hi-A: The San Jose Giants were supposed to have a rotation for the ages this year, with names like Crick, Blackburn, Mejia, and Escobar. But Blach, the one guy who nobody talked about before the season, has been arguably the Hi-A Giants most impressive starter in the first half. The lefty was taken in the 5th round out of Creighton last season, where he was a workhorse in his senior season. He made 21 starts with a 2.69 ERA and 83k/28bb. He’s opened plenty of eyes in his first season of professional ball, posting a 2.67 ERA and a ridiculous 70k/8bb in 77 innings. He throws a low-90’s fastball, a sharp breaking ball, and I think it’s safe to say he’s got above average command.

#25. Joan Gregorio – RHP, 21 yo, Lo-A: Gregorio is a 6’7” international signee and really has a chance to put himself back on the radar if he continues pitching like he has so far this year in Augusta. After a rough go in Salem-Keizer in ‘12, he’s cruising (when healthy) in Low A with 42k/6bb in 36 innings (7 starts). We’ll see if he can sustain these numbers through the second half.

Mid-Season Top 40 Prospects (26-30)

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#26. Cody Hall – RHP, 25 yo, AA: Bullpen arm, pumps a mid-90’s fastball. Having a monster year in SJ; Allowed only 5 ER with 42k/7bb in 30 innings this year. Stellar closer with 21 saves for Low-A Augusta in 2012.

#27. Chris Heston – RHP, 25 yo, AAA: Command pitcher drafted in the 12th round (2009). He’s stopped at nearly every level in the system, his best year by far coming a season ago in AA. A 5.30 EA through 15 starts in Fresno has prevented him from getting the call.  The Giants could sure use him if he turns things around in the second half.

#28. Jarrett Parker – OF, 24 yo, AA: Former 2nd round pick from UVA, can hit for power, knows how to draw a walk, and can swipe a bag. Strikes out a ton, but I’m keeping a close eye on him after hitting 8 HR this May.

#29. Brian Ragira – 1B, 22 yo, SS-A: 4th round pick in 2013, he was the third player drafted out of Stanford. Has a chance to hit for contact and field his position well. Could turn out to be a draft steal if he can hit for power.

#30. Steven Okert – LHP, 21 yo, Lo-A: Big, hard-throwing lefty reliever. He was the Giants 4th round pick in 2012. 3.19 ERA (but 14 walks) in 31 innings pitched this season.

Mid-Season Top 40 Prospects (31-35)

NCAA Baseball: College World Series-UCLA vs Arizona

#31. Tyler Hollick – OF, 20 yo, SS-A: Canadian-born, 14th round pick out of junior college in ’12. He hit .301 with 21 steals in 2012 AZL, and is off to a fast start in Salem-Keizer this summer. Has blazing speed and gap power. Definitely could move up this list.

#32. Kendry Flores – RHP, 21 yo, Lo-A: Minor league vet at age 21 (signed at 17), solid numbers in first year of full-season ball. Career bb/9 of 2.3 in 287 innings pitched.

#33. Nick Vander Tuig – RHP, 22 yo: 6th round pick. Very unfamiliar with this kid before his clutch performance in the CWS clincher last night – 8 innings of shutout ball to win a championship.  He’s not a big guy and doesn’t throw very hard, but he has great command and he’s got quite a resume coming out of UCLA. He’s also from NorCal and a big Giants fan! I think he could be a real sleeper in this system.

#34. Ehire Adrianza – SS, 23 yo, AA: He’s been in the org. since ’06 and he’s still only 23. Elite defense, but really hasn’t ever hit. Was once a top prospect in the organization.

#35. Dan Slania – RHP, 21 yo: 5th round pick this year, big, hard-throwing closer from Notre Dame. Should fit right in with the other talented bullpen arms in the system.

Mid-Season Top 40 Prospects (36-40)

*Click on the player’s name to see his MiLB profile.

#36. Chris Marlowe – RHP, 23 yo, Hi-A: Throws the best curveball in the Giants’ system, but needs to lower his walk rate. After a hard luck season in Low A, he opened 2013 in San Jose with a 1.95 ERA through 7 starts before an injury. Currently on a rehab assignment.

#37. Tyler Mizenko – RHP, 23 yo, Lo-A: 28th round pick in ’12 has outperformed expectations by a wide margin so far, locking down 30 saves with a 1.26 ERA between S-K and Augusta. He’s allowed 2 ER through 32 innings this year!

#38. Ricky Oropesa – 1B, 23 yo, AA: Toolsy 3rd round pick in ’11 out of USC. Very good defender who needs to cut down the K’s and make more contact if he wants to be a big leaguer.

#39. Leonardo Fuentes – OF, 20 yo, AZL: Colombian born, big bodied (6-4, 215) outfielder signed in ’09.  Has not played above rookie ball, but he’s got loads of talent. Maybe he gets it going this summer?

#40. Chuckie Jones – OF, 20 yo, Lo-A: Taken in the 7th round of ’10 out of high school, Jones may be the biggest project in the system. But he’s built like Yasiel Puig, and if he ever puts all of his tools together, he could be special. I’m not counting on it.

Mid-Season Top 40 Prospects (A Preview)

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The Giants have been a winning club for most of my lifetime, and I am very grateful for that. They weren’t very good when I was beginning college though, and for that I am also grateful. I was fresh out of high school when I discovered names like Noonan, Villalona, Alderson and Bumgarner. With those names came a whole new world of wonder for me, and I have been a minor league junkie ever since. Although I sift through the box scores of each Giants affiliate every night and read countless prospect lists, I often have a very hard time creating my own rankings. I am not a scout, nor do I pretend to be. I base my list off of what I have read in scouting reports by others, as well as my own opinions of what makes a good baseball “prospect.” But the minor leagues are a passion of mine, and I have tried to put my best ranking together.

At this point, most baseball “experts” consider the Giants farm system to be one of the weakest. Obviously, I’m a little biased, but I don’t buy into this notion for one second. I will say, it is a very hard system to rank individual players, as there really aren’t any A+ level guys right now. However, it is not a system that lacks talent or depth. This system still excites me, and I will delve into my rankings through a series of posts to follow.