Mid-Season Top 40 Prospects: #13

13. Josh Osich – LHP, 24 yo, AA: How sweet would it be to see Heath Hembree lighting it up from the right side and Josh Osich from the left in the next couple years? The Giants drafted Osich in the 6th round of the 2011 draft out of Oregon State. He offered some of the best power stuff in the draft that year, and likely would have been a first round pick if not for having Tommy John surgery in 2010. Osich was both a starter and reliever in college, but has pitched strictly out of the bullpen for the Giants. He’s got a big body, and can dial his fastball up around 97-98 from the left side. He posted a 3.62 ERA in 32 innings last season for San Jose (his first season of pro ball), and the Giants had him return to Hi-A for the first half this year as well. In 40 innings of work this season, he racked up 48 strikeouts and 12 saves to go along with a 2.45 ERA. By the all-star break, Osich was beginning to embarrass hitters with his fastball, and he’s now been promoted to AA for the second half. He’s a little older than you’d like a top prospect, but if he can stay healthy and keep cranking that fastball up, he’s not that away from a call-up.

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A New Low Every Night

The turnaround will have to wait yet another night.  Two months ago, the Giants were making us immune to comeback victories.  Now, eight games under .500, we’re becoming immune to bad baseball.  On a night that started so promising, Buster kept his red-hot bat alive by taking Matt Harvey deep for a two-run shot in the first.  On the other end, Timmy was as good as he’s been in two years.  Heading into the 5th, he hadn’t allowed a hit and his split-change was something straight from 2008. The park was alive, and for a short time all the recent bad vibes were forgotten.  The Freak would go on to battle for seven innings, allowing three runs while striking out 11… seriously, ‘08 stuff (albeit against a team 11 games below .500).

In the end, Lincecum’s vintage performance and Posey’s career-high five hits weren’t enough to propel the Giants, who stranded runners for SIXTEEN innings on their way to a bitter 4-3 loss.  After tying the game at three in the bottom of the 7th, the Giant bats posted nine consecutive zeroes on the board, and a Brandon Crawford botched grounder allowed the go-ahead run to score in the bottom of the 16th.

The Giants signed Jeff Francoeur this morning, who was recently released by Kansas City, and who hasn’t been referred to as “The Natural” by Sports Illustrated in years.  He’ll play a few games in Fresno to get his bat going before coming to SF. His .208 average is rough, but he’s a decent hitter against lefties, and, come on, can we really get any worse at this point?

Mid-Season Top 40 Prospects: #14

#14. Christian Arroyo – SS, 18 yo, R: Arroyo, a high school kid out of Florida, is the Giants’ newest first round pick. He broke a commitment to Florida, signed quickly and has made his debut in rookie league. In all honesty, you would like to see a new first-round talent rank somewhere in the top 5 or 10, but I just can’t rank him that high until we see what he offers. The prep shortstop was ranked 102nd on the Baseball America draft board, and the Giants grabbed him with the 25th overall pick. Any ranking (including mine) should be taken with a grain of salt, but I’m just not making the connection with this kid as a first round talent yet. Yes, he put up impressive numbers as a prep player (.524, 11 HR his senior year), but most scouts don’t project him to be a stellar professional hitter, or even a shortstop (he seems to profile better as a catcher).

I know my review of Arroyo may come off as negative, but I don’t want anyone to think I’m not excited to see how he performs – because I am. He’s just a bit riskier of a first round pick for the Giants, but there’s absolutely no reason a high school position player can’t develop over time just as Cain, Bumgarner and Wheeler did as first round prep pitchers. Arroyo is a kid who projects confidence, intelligence and leadership, and a steady performance in rookie ball this summer could have him moving up the list quickly.

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Limping to the Break

Six weeks into the season, the Giants were starting to resemble the team I thought they’d be. They’d just taken three of four from Atlanta (the “it” team in the NL), and they were a season-best eight games over .500 (23-15). The team had overcome some spotty starting pitching with a consistent offense and late-game heroics. They would spend the next day traveling north of the Border for a two game series with last-place Toronto, and I was just cocky enough to believe we were about to establish our dominance over the league.

That was May 12.  Since then, the Giants have lost 32 of 49 games, suffering through defensive and base-running blunders, significant injuries and terrible slumps. They’ve tail-spun into last place thanks to some brutal road play (losing three of four at home to the Marlins didn’t help either). Nearly half of their everyday lineup is mired in a deep funk, and Angel Pagan is essentially out for the season.  In case you were wondering, help is NOT on the way from Fresno.

The Giants, now 7 games under .500 after dropping two of three at home to the Dodgers this weekend, host the 37-48 Mets for a 3-game series. But don’t let the poor record fool you… New York will send phenom Matt Harvey to the mound for game one, and former Giant top prospect Zack Wheeler toes the rubber for game three on Wednesday night.  Seven games remain in the first half, and the Giants are limping toward the break

Mid-Season Top 40 Prospects: #15

#15. Francisco Peguero – OF, 25 yo, AAA: Peguero is still considered one of the top position player prospects in the Giants organization by some, but he is starting to slide down my list. Known as a guy who could really flash a lot of tools if he put everything together, Peguero just doesn’t look like he will hit enough to be an every-day outfielder. He’s a solid defender with above-average speed, but he’s 25 and has only managed 32 AB in his major league career. Could be a valuable bench player if he can learn to be a productive situational hitter, but I don’t see him making many contributions with the Giants. Just my thought, but I could see him being included as part of a trade if the Giants are buyers at the deadline.

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Mid-Season Top 40 Prospects: #16

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#16. Roger Kieschnick – OF, 26 yo, AAA: Kieschnick is a guy who I feel could be seeing his window closing with the Giants. Unfortunately, he’s never gotten the chance to show what he can do in AT&T Park. The athletic lefty was taken in the 3rd round in 2008 from Texas Tech, and he burst onto the scene with 23 HR and 110 RBI in his first professional season at San Jose. After spending two rocky seasons in AA, Kieschnick opened 2012 in AAA Fresno, where he hit .306 with 15 HR in 55 games. A season-ending shoulder injury probably cost him a shot at making his MLB debut. Injuries have been a theme for him during his pro career. This season, he’s cooled down considerably after a hot start. He strikes out in bunches, but I’m still impressed by his ability to hit for extra bases (37 in 78 games), and he’s known for his defense and arm in the outfield. His 9 triples really stand out, and I think his athleticism and tools could be of use for a major league team. I just don’t know if the Giants are that team anymore.

Mid-Season Top 40 Prospects: #17

#17. Edwin Escobar – LHP, 21 yo, Hi-A: Escobar is a left-handed starting pitcher from Venezuela who is really coming into his own these days. Originally signed by Texas, he came to the Giants in a trade for Ben Snyder in 2010. Snyder never made it to the bigs, and Escobar put up some impressive numbers in Lo-A last season (2.96 ERA, 122k/32bb in 22 starts). He’s been even better in San Jose this year, posting a k/9 of 11.4 and a bb/9 of 2.0 (both career bests) through his first 13 starts, with an ERA sitting in the low 3’s. He tosses a low-90’s fastball, and I think the Giants have a real sleeper here if he can continue his progression of the past year and a half.

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