4/5 MiLB Wrap: Strong Debut for Mella

Another night, another impressive performance for a starting pitcher in the Giants’ system. With four extremely talented international pitchers making their debut for a new club yesterday, it was Augusta righty Keury Mella who came away turning heads. Mella, the 20 year-old Dominican whose name really started getting some press this winter, tossed 5 solid innings in the Greenjackets’ 6-3 win over Charleston.

Last night’s start was Mella’s first for a full-season affiliate, and as always Augusta beat writer David Lee had a solid recap of the outing. According to Lee, Mella’s heavy fastball ran 91-94 (with more 94’s than 91’s). Lee actually described that fastball as having the weight of “a gazillion bowling balls.” I’d say that’s pretty heavy! The kid also showed a changeup and breaking ball, both with plus potential according to Lee. You can read the full recap here.

Personally, I became an instant fan of Mella’s game after watching that clip of him during the instructional league this winter. That’s all it took. Apparently, Lee was in the same boat after seeing 5 innings last night, saying, “Baseball Prospectus labeled Mella a No. 2 ceiling, and I might be crazy to go along with it after seeing him one time, but I’m willing to take that risk. This kid seems to be the real deal.”

Mella Final Line: 5.2 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K

Video Courtesy of Giant Potential

Pitching Roundup:

Mella wasn’t the only high upside Giants pitcher to make his debut yesterday. In San Jose, towering Joan Gregorio was impressive in 4 innings of work, throwing a 92-94 fastball and a sharp slider. He didn’t allow a run, and was likely pulled for pitch count reasons.

Gregorio Line: 4 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K

Lefty Adalberto Mejia made his first start for AA Richmond yesterday, allowing 3 ER in 5 IP. Mejia, the youngest pitcher in the Eastern League, was putting 96’s on the stadium radar gun, according to Squirrels’ media man Jon Laaser (that’s pronounced LAZER). Maybe that gun in New Britain was a little hot, but either way, Mejia was bringing some heat yesterday! The 6-foot-3 lefty came out for the 6th inning, where he allowed 2 of his 3 ER and didn’t record an out.

Mejia Line: 5 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 5 K

The fourth and final performance of the night belonged to Edwin Escobar, whose initial AAA outing didn’t fare so well. Pitching in Las Vegas, one of the most hitter-friendly parks in the minors, Esky was tagged for 5 R (4 ER) and 10 H during 4.2 IP. It’s no secret that the PCL can be one of the most difficult leagues for a young pitcher to adjust to, especially when coming directly from the Eastern League. I think Escobar will be fine, but he’s likely not going to be pitching shutouts every time out.

Escobar Line: 4.2 IP, 10 H, 5 R (4 ER), 1 BB, 4 K

Video Courtesy of Nathaniel Stoltz

I promise, we’re going to spend some more time focusing on hitters in the organization as the season goes on. But right now, there are so many big name pitchers making their respective debuts, it’s hard not to focus on them. Some of the noteworthy offensive performances from Giants prospects last night include Andrew Susac, who remains red-hot after driving in the go-ahead runs in the 9th for Fresno last night. The catcher is hitting .583 in his first 3 games. Jarrett Parker had another big day for Richmond, tallying 4 hits and a HR. Parker’s hitting .615 early, and you have to wonder if he’ll be promoted to Fresno when Mac Williamson moves up from San Jose.

Angel Villalona hit his first HR of the season for Richmond yesterday, while a host of other hitters contributed to the Squirrels’ 13-3 win. In Augusta, Randy Ortiz was 2-4 with a 3B. Ortiz is a pretty unknown guy, so I’m hoping to get a little more information on him in the near future. Tyler Horan had a 2-hit game for the Greenjackets as well.

Finally, if you’re a subscriber to MiLB.tv, you’ll be able to catch Kyle Crick’s first start for Richmond this morning. That game starts at 10:35 AM on the west coast. I’ll tell you, I purchased that package last year, and really didn’t use it as much as I’d have liked. With all the talented pitching in the organization this season, I had to buy it again. It’s $50 for the season or $12.99 monthly, and I think any Giants minor league fan would get their money’s worth this season.

Richmond and Augusta still don’t have home video broadcasts (how is that possible in 2014?), but other teams in their respective leagues do. Richmond’s 4-game series against New Britain this week has been broadcast, and I believe Augusta has some games that’ll be available later in the month. It looks like all of Fresno’s games this month can be watched, and San Jose has a video feed for all of its home games. In other words, lots of opportunities to watch the organization’s top prospects this year!

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Cove Chatter 100: #4

Adalberto Mejia | LHP, 20 yo, 6-3, 195 | IFA 2010 DR | (A+) 16 GS, 87 IP, 3.31 ERA, 7.8 H/9, 2.4 BB/9, 9.3 K/9 | (AAA) 1 GS, 5 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 2 K | (AFL) 7 G, 3 GS, 17 IP, 8.47 ERA, 18 H, 8 BB, 14 K

He doesn’t seem to get as much press as some of the other pitchers in the system, but Mejia is loaded with potential in his MLB-ready pitcher’s frame. He was in the Dominican Summer League only two years ago, and should be headed for Richmond next season – flying under the radar most of the way. He features a low-90’s fastball that showed good readings in the AFL, and a back-foot slider that can be devastating when it’s on… His secondary stuff could use some tightening up, but that should come with time. He was one of the youngest players in the Cal League last year, and will likely be another of the babies in the Eastern League this summer. A 20 year old lefty with size and impressive control (career 1.8 BB/9)? Sign me up!

They said it: “Tall lefty with good hard sink in 93-94 mph fastball, with a slider and changeup… I love this kid…It’s just a matter of command with him, and staying mechanically sound coming to the plate.” ~ Giants minor league pitching coordinator Bert Bradley

Mejia Video:

(Conner Penfold/Giant Potential)

Fire up the Stove

As of yesterday, the options for Andres Torres and Barry Zito have officially been declined, making them free agents. No shocker there. Both guys had their time in the sun with the club, but it was time for the Giants to move on. Neither guy really made any significant contributions all season, when both were expected to play somewhat significant roles… the organization can’t let that happen next year.

The free agency period is nearly upon us. The exclusive negotiating window teams have with their potential free agents will end in the next day or so, at which point the offseason will officially begin. As it stands, Javier Lopez and Ryan Vogelsong’s status with the Gigantes is still very much up in the air. In his live chat last week, Baggs’ stated what most of us know on the Lopez front: there’s mutual interest, but no deal is in place. Javy’s been a huge (and underrated) piece in Bruce Bochy’s bullpen since he came over from Pittsburgh, and I expect there’ll be a deal announced shortly… probably another two years for the lefty extraordinaire. The Giants specifically didn’t trade him at the deadline because they wanted to bring him back. Generally, when a player and the club have mutual interest, a deal gets done.  I’ll say this though: if Lopez doesn’t sign, there are a few other intriguing lefties out there. A guy I’ve always liked is JP Howell. He had a very good year for the Dodgers, and he’s only 30.

As for Vogey, Baggs has been indicating for a while that the Giants won’t pick up the $6.5 million option for next year, but they’ll renegotiate a cheaper deal. There hasn’t been much talk either way so far, which isn’t all that surprising when it comes to Sabean doing business… but I did find the comments on from Vogey’s agent last week interesting. I can’t seem to find the article now. Essentially, that there hadn’t been any contact from the Giants yet… Can you picture Vogelsong sitting by his phone, staring intently, waiting for the call to come in? Me neither, but it really didn’t sound like there’d been a whole lot of communication. Vogey wants to come back, but Sabean would be absolutely nuts to give him anything more than $1 million at this point. If they could come to some reasonable terms, I’d gladly have him back to compete with Petit/Surkamp/Kickham for the 5th starter spot. I wouldn’t expect anything more than that at this point.

With Lopez and Vogey being the last remaining free agents-to-be on the club at the moment, the Giants aren’t going to be offering any qualifying offers. There’s some significance here, as at one point they could have potentially been looking at a couple of potential first round picks… but they weren’t willing to take the chance of losing Hunter Pence or Tim Lincecum to free agency. I have to admit, the more I think about the Timmy situation, the more I wish they would have waited and made the qualifying offer. It’s all water under the bridge at this point, though. The Giants will take their 14th pick in next year’s draft, and they’ll like it.

A few more offseason thoughts here. CSN has had a few free agent power rankings posts on their site lately. If I remember right, they basically copied and pasted the left field, starting pitcher, and relief pitcher rankings from hardballtalk.com. I want to address the site comments on these posts. It’s amazing to me how unrealistic or distorted a view people have on Sabean, the Giants and their offseason agenda. The front office has said numerous times already that they aren’t going to sacrifice their first round pick, which is not protected. So… Robinson Cano, Jacoby Ellsbury, Shin-Soo Choo are out of the picture, as are any other players who receive a qualifying offer. If you aren’t familiar with the qualifying offer and draft pick compensation, take a look at this article from SB Nation. Pretty good explanation of the process.

Also, you have to look at the market for free agency. There’s not much talent out there this year. Cano, Ellsbury, and Choo are going to make some major green. Even if you take the qualifying offer out of the equation, when’s the last time Sabes forked out $100 million for a free agent not named Barry Zito? It’s not the way he does business, and the Giants have already committed nearly $130 million to the payroll for next season. Barring something very unforeseen (like a hard push for Masahiro Tanaka), Sabean has already spent his big money for the offseason. As hard as it is for those of us who support the orange and black to watch what the Dodgers are doing down in La-La Land, you have to understand the way the Giants do business. Every team has holes that need to be filled, and while the Dodgers may be willing to empty their pockets and farm system to acquire talent, the Giants just don’t play that game. They never have. You may disagree with the way they do business (as I do from time to time), but this club won the World Series only one year ago. Sabean is banking on his key players from 2012 having a bounceback season in 2014, despite his comments about windows closing.

Personally, I don’t see any indications that the Giants will be in on Tanaka. I don’t think they’ll even make the final three teams involved. The estimates being tossed around for his services are pretty outrageous, but there are teams willing to spend that kind of dough. Tanaka could be a game-changer, but I’m really not getting my hopes up anymore. I’d bank more on a Bronson Arroyo or AJ Burnett. Maybe Sabes ponies up a bit more for a guy like Ubaldo Jimenez.

One thing I do expect to take place this winter is a trade or two. Every indication I’ve gotten is that the Giants don’t think too highly of the free agent class (and how can they?). If that’s the case, maybe they’ll put some packages together to land a pitcher or left fielder. But who do they trade? Other than Kyle Crick, Edwin Escobar and Adalberto Mejia (all mentioned by Baggs last week as “untouchable”), I’d think every other minor leaguer in the organization is available. I think Clayton Blackburn could be a nice trade piece… Add Joan Gregorio and Chris Stratton to that list, as well as any of the high-octane relievers. Stratton is a guy I’d like to hold onto, though. On the hitting side, I’d have to think Sabean would listen on anyone. I’d like to see Susac and Williamson be off limits, but those are probably the two most coveted guys. Either way, the Giants understand the limitations of modern-day free agency, and may try to get creative in strengthening the roster.

I’m sure there’ll be plenty more to talk about in the coming weeks, but that’s all for now. The hot stove is almost upon us, so things should start to get interesting (or not interesting, depending on your expectations) very soon.

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Scenes from the AFL

Just wanted to give a quick tip for those interested in Crick and the boys in the Arizona Fall League. Conner Penfold over at sfgiantpotential.com made the trip out to the desert to get some footage of the Giants prospects, and he’s got some sweet new video up from the last couple of days. He also has a write-up from each of the games he attended… so far, there’s video posted of every Giant farmhand except Cody Hall and Derek Law. As of the 8th inning in Peoria today, neither of the two relievers have pitched. I’ve seen a few clips on Law before, but Hall is a guy I’d be very interested to watch. Just how hard does he throw that fastball? Kyle Crick, who is working out of the pen in preparation for the AFL All-Star game, tossed two scoreless innings today, and his ERA has crept down to 4.66.

More about the videos. In Crick’s one inning of work, he’s rocking the heater. To me, he seems to really increase his pace when he’s in a groove. I love pitchers who do that, a la Tim Lincecum in his prime. My favorite part of that Crick footage though? Mr. Colin Moran, pride of North Carolina… grab some pine, meat! A side note here: I recently watched the “Homegrown Giants” feature that was produced as part of the “Inside the Clubhouse” series by the Giants media team. This one was released in September, but I hadn’t seen it before. Very cool stuff. Posey, Romo, the All-Star Game in New York… but it follows Crick around for a bit, and gives quite a bit of insight on the Giants’ player development philosophy. If you haven’t seen it, I’d definitely recommend setting 20 minutes aside to check it out. Here’s the link. In regards to Crick, I’ve just got to say, I really admire the kid, and I think the Giants have another future stud on their hands. Everyone involved understands what he needs to do to make it, but I get the feeling nobody thinks he can’t get there. He’s an intelligent young man – confident and incredibly talented… and I really am excited about his future.

Jarrett Parker is quite a bit slimmer than I thought. He’s listed at 6-4, 210 pounds, but he doesn’t look it to me. We know he strikes out at incredible rates, but he puts on a pretty spirited AB too. He gets deep into counts, takes his share of walks, and hits for a good amount of power. Sounds like he covers a ton of ground out in center as well. His lefty bat will need to find those gaps at AT&T if he wants to make it as a big leaguer, but hey, the guy is a former 2nd round pick, he’s probably headed to Fresno next year, and the organization sent him to Arizona to run with the big dogs. They’ve got their eye on him, and as far as I know they’re still looking for someone in the organization to grab ahold of left field…

Adalberto Mejia made his first start of the fall yesterday and got knocked around a bit in 2.1 innings of work. The first inning got off to a rough start after DeShields battled for a walk right out of the gate. Personally, I thought Mr. Mejia had him beat with an 0-2 slider that snapped in at the knees (4th pitch of the AB)… but he didn’t get the call and couldn’t put him away. DeShields is a tough out, and Mejia is still just a young kid gaining some tremendous experience this fall. He really wasn’t that wild, he just couldn’t quite find the zone… and he left some pitches up, which will get you run pretty quickly against competition like that.

A couple more thoughts on the young lefty. Wow, he’s a big-bodied kid! Very similar body type to Clayton Blackburn, in my humble opinion. If you’ve never been over to Giant Potential, I’d highly recommend clicking on the video section of the blog. Penfold gets some great footage, in full-on HD quality. In a previous piece about Mejia, he talks about him throwing a back-foot slider that’s very Bumgarner-esque. It didn’t look to me like he threw too many of them in the AFL clip, but that 0-2 pitch to DeShields was nasty. If he can hone that sucker in, the sky is absolutely the limit for him.

Andrew Susac and Angel Villalona went hitless, but Angel V. did put together some tough AB’s. Personally, I’d like to see the Giants challenge him with a Fresno assignment this season and see if he can hang. His time out of the country definitely set him back a bit in terms of professional development, but he showed the power potential in Richmond. So I say send him to AAA and see if he can swim. If not, he’s back in Richmond. If he does, look out ladies and gents!

Susac is a player I’m growing fonder of by the day. Small sample sizes in the AFL aren’t anything to get too worked up about, but the more digging I do on this guy, the more I like. In my eyes, he’s got a legitimate major league bat. Maybe not a big batting average guy, but he’s patient, powerful, and seems to have a real calm at the dish. If he’s even average defensively, the Giants have their excuse to get Buster Posey out of the gear. Speaking of Posey, I couldn’t help but notice Susac has a few tendencies in his batting stance and swing that remind me a lot of Buster… even the leg kick in his load. Now, I hope nobody reads too much into this comment, I’m not saying anything about Susac being the hitter/player Posey is. But I do think the kid has the potential to have a solid MLB career if he can change his injury-prone ways, and I hope he does so with the Giants. Is it crazy to say Susac is a bit of a sleeper in the organization?

Lastly, I just wanted to note that the blog hasn’t been as active lately. I apologize for that, but I hope you will stick around, as I’ve been working on some very big projects on the minor league front. I’m learning more and more about the Giants farm system every day, and I hope to start sharing some of these things pretty soon. I know they will be worth the wait.

Fall Ball Catch-Up

Kyle Crick takes the mound for Los Escorpiones de Scottsdale in the Arizona Fall League this afternoon. It’ll be Cricky’s 3rd start in the fall league, and he’ll oppose Andrew Heaney, the former Oklahoma State lefty (and top 10 pick) who ranks pretty high in the Marlins’ system. So you’ve got Crick, the prep righty and Heaney, the college lefty, squaring off for a pretty sweet showdown between highly regarded hurlers. Neither will probably last more than 3 innings, but I’m interested to see whether or not Crick can command the strike zone. The Giants top minor league arm struggled in his first start for Scottsdale, but bounced back with a nice 3-inning effort in his last outing, allowing a run while striking out 5. If you’re scoring at home, that’s 5 bb and 9 k in 5 innings of work for the hard-throwing righty, who just happens to be one of the youngest players in that prestigious AFL. He’s been pumping 94-97 steadily in both starts. Here’s the link to MLB.com Gameday if you want to check in on Crick and the gang this afternoon.

For the Giants, Jarrett Parker (2nd) and Andrew Susac (6th) are both in the lineup for the Scorpions today, who play at 12:35pm Mountain Time. Angel V. sits – I don’t think all three hitters have been in the same lineup through the first 10 games, although they’ve all had some early contributions. Susac was the star last night, starting behind the dish and smacking a 2-run HR as part of a 3-hit night. Susac had been showing some nice plate discipline early, but last night’s blast was his first flash of power in Arizona. That game, which Scottsdale claimed 5-1 over Glendale, was the radio game of the day… I believe Bernie Pleskoff was one of the guys on the mic, so I’ll be interested to see if he puts together a short write-up on Susac. He’s pretty good about things like that, and I’ll post a link in my Twitter feed if I find anything.

Here’s a quick rundown on how the Giants are faring in the AFL.

Kyle Crick, RHP – 2 GS, 5 IP, 7.20 ERA, 5 BB, 9 K: Looking to string a couple nice starts together, but velocity has been there. Needs to keep working in the hitter-friendly environment.

Adalberto Mejia, LHP – 3 G, 4.2 IP, 17.36 ERA, 3 BB, 4 K: Another one of the youngsters in the league. He’s struggled out of the pen, giving up 2 HR. Right now, it’s all about the experience, but I’d like to see him get a start or two.

Cody Hall, RHP: 3 G, 3 IP, 6.00 ERA, 2 BB, 3 K: Hall gave up 2 ER in his first outing, but has tossed two scoreless innings since. A strong showing could earn him a big league spring training invite.

Derek Law, RHP: 4 G, 5.1 IP, 0.00 ERA, 2 BB, 6 K: Very nice start for Law, who’s been getting all kinds of press lately. Arguably a top-25 guy in the organization after his second half in San Jose. Keep turning heads, young man.

Andrew Susac, C – 6 G, .368/1.026, 1 HR, 3 RBI: Showing his advanced plate discipline early with .500 OBP. Gaining steam with a big HR last night.

Jarrett Parker, OF – 5 G, .235/.569, 1 RBI: No multi-hit games so far, but he’s got a hit in 4 of the 5 games he’s played in. He’s also got 2 K’s in 4 of the 5, but that’s not especially abnormal for Parker.

Angel Villalona, 1B – 7 G, .273/678, 2 RBI: Angel V. is a guy who a lot of people have their eyes on this fall, and he’s holding his own so far. Hopefully he smacks a few out of the park before season’s end.

*Update: Scottsdale beat Glendale 5-1, and six of the seven Giants farmhands took part in the action. Crick showed the good and the bad in less than two innings of work, breezing through the first with 2 K and a fly-out, but allowing a solo shot and walking the bases loaded in the second. Crick was pulled in favor of Mejia, who had a coming-out party with some brilliant relief work. The young lefty allowed only one base-runner in 3.1 IP and fanned 5. Mejia had struggled a bit in his first few outings, but this should give him a nice boost of confidence.  Crick left him with a pond full of ducks in the 2nd, and Mejia was nails with a 3-pitch K of the Glendale leadoff hitter. Cody Hall and Derek Law pitched scoreless innings out of the pen. All together, the Giants pitchers combined to toss 7 innings for Scottsdale, allowing two hits and one run. They struck out nine. Susac stayed hot at the dish, reaching base 3 times and driving in a run with a sac fly. There’s a nice recap from MLB.com that focuses on the performances of Crick and Mejia here… a good day for the Giants youngsters, even if Crick didn’t have his best stuff.

 

AFL Opening Day: Mixed Bag for Susac, Mejia

Yesterday was Opening Day for the Arizona Fall League, which as always is littered with top minor league talent. This year’s notables include Byron Buxton, Addison Russell and Jameson Taillon, among others. The Giants sent 7 players to the Scottsdale squad this year, many that I’d consider top 25 prospects in the system. Kyle Crick, Adalberto Mejia and Andrew Susac are the headliners, and all are in the organization’s top 10 in my book. The Giants also sent Cody Hall and Derek Law as stout right-handed bullpen reps, and Angel Villalona and Jarrett Parker as power bats. To me, this is one of the more exciting groups the Giants have sent to the AFL in recent years. With a nice mixture of positions represented, I’m guessing you’ll see at least one of them in the box score nearly every day.

Susac started behind the dish in the opener for Scottsdale last night, and had a pretty eventful game. He hit 1-3 at the plate, with a walk, a strikeout, and an RBI single. On the other side, he played all 9 innings and caught 7 different pitchers in the process. He nailed a runner attempting to steal 3rd with an impressive throw (according to Bernie Pleskoff, who was at the game). He also made a throwing error. I’d say that’s a pretty full 9 innings, for sure. There are two other catchers on the Scottsdale roster, but I think Susac could see the majority of the starts.

Susac also caught Pirates’ phenom Taillon – who should join Gerrit Cole to make an even stronger Bucco rotation next year – for the first two innings. Taillon was followed by Mejia, who had a rocky AFL debut in his relief appearance. He couldn’t find the strike zone in the 3rd, walking two and allowing a hit before serving up a 3-run bomb to Kyle Parker of the Rockies. I wasn’t sure if the young lefty would even make it out of the inning, but he did, and even pitched a 1-2-3 4th before being pulled. Not the best start for the kid, obviously, but with Mejia, you have to keep in mind that he was the youngest player in the Cal League on Opening Day in April. The AFL is also a great hitter’s environment, so the fact that he settled down and breezed through the next inning was a good sign. He’ll be just fine, and I’d guess that he’ll be a part of the rotation at some point… you generally don’t see starters throw many innings in the winter leagues anyway.

I had heard Crick was supposed to start tonight, but it looks like Aaron Northcraft of the Braves got the nod. If Crick goes tomorrow, I’ll definitely try to get a short write-up done the next morning. If you want a direct link to the AFL homepage, try mlbfallball.com.

Prospects in the Press

We’ve got some news on the prospect front for the first time in a while. Jason Cole of Baseball Prospectus posted video from a recent instructional league game between the Giants and A’s. Originally he posted four clips; pitchers Kyle Crick and Keury Mella, and hitters Angel Villalona and Ryder Jones. Later, Cole snuck in a one-inning stint from 3rd round pick Chase Johnson. If you haven’t seen these, I’ll link them here. I definitely recommend checking them out… All are high-quality, HD clips that get right in behind home plate. Pretty sweet views of each pitcher’s breaking pitches!

Crick Video

Mella Video

Johnson Video

Jones Video

Villalona Video

My take: The pitchers were a bit more exciting, as you might have guessed. Pitching is the cream of the crop in this franchise! Crick’s video is the longest, as he throws a few innings. He’s a bit wild at first, surrendering walks and a couple of base hits in the first inning. He settled in pretty nicely in the following frames, and was consistently 94-96 with his fastball. I don’t know about you, but I just love this guy. Do me a favor: watch the Crick video again, then watch this clip of another pitcher the Giants developed a few years back. See any similarities? Pretty awesome stuff if you ask me.

I think Mella’s video was my favorite, and I’ve watched it over a few times. This kid is highly, highly underrated in my opinion. I don’t think it’ll be that way for much longer, though. Look at that frame! Abbreviated windup (a little like David Price), fastball at 93-95, and a filthy breaking ball! Gives up a base hit to the first hitter, then absolutely makes the second guy (Higley) look silly on three pitches. He’d work through the second inning without allowing a baserunner, recording a few K’s in the process. This video was an eye-opener for me, as I still knew relatively little about this kid. Let’s just say he’ll get a nice bump up my offseason rankings. He’s got a long way to go, but that fastball looks goooood going forward. What other starting pitcher in the system throws that hard?

Johnson pitched an inning, losing a long battle with Oakland’s 1st rounder Billy McKinney. McKinney took the walk after spoiling some 3-2 pitches, and the next batter hit an RBI triple to left center. Looked like the CF had trouble getting the ball in, but it was crushed either way. Still, Johnson worked 91-94 with the fastball, and even hit 95 once from what I remember. His breaking ball is a big, over the top curve. Had a little trouble controlling it. The changeup is low 80’s, making for a very nice change of pace from his fastball. You know, for a guy whose 3rd round draft spot prompted some questions in June, Johnson is starting to get some hype at the national level all of a sudden. Baseball America ranked him the #8 player in the NWL in its offseason top 20 list last week. He was the only Salem-Keizer player to make the list, in fact. It’ll be interesting to see what the Giants do with him next year. Augusta? San Jose? Starter? Reliever? Guess we’ll have to wait to find out.

Jones and Villalona’s videos were a little uneventful. I can’t, however, get over how big Angel V. is. He is a serious bopper, and he’s headed to the AFL to put his bat to the test. It looked like he got into one pretty good during this game, but you couldn’t see where the ball landed. Could have been a routine base hit, but I got the impression it was a very long single. Either way, this kid looks like he’s got major league power. Does he have major league contact?

Hopefully Cole will get the chance to shoot a few more Giants before instructional league ends. Those were a lot of fun to check out!

Finally, the Cal League top 20 was released by Baseball America today, and the Giants ran away with it. Crick came it at #3 behind A’s phenom Addison Russell and Rockies hurler Eddie Butler (although MLB.com has Crick #42 in its updated top 100; Butler was ranked in the 80’s). Delino Deshields and Austin Hedges got the 4 and 5 spots, with our own Edwin “Esky” Escobar sliding in at #6. Who came in at #10, you ask? Well, that would be none other than Adalberto Mejia, lefty extraordinaire. Three Giants pitchers in the top 10 gives you a pretty good idea that we fans aren’t the only ones taking notice of these arms anymore. Pretty exciting stuff.

On the back end, Ty Blach came in at #15, Mac Williamson at 18, and Clayton Blackburn rounded it out at 20. Six Giants in the top 20, impressive. I think what surprised me the most here was Blackburn getting the lowest spot among this group. Many in the Giants fan base (myself included) believe Blackburn is a top 5 prospect in the system. Hell, you could make the argument that he’s #2 or 3. So I think this list gives us a pretty good idea about how the rest of the world looks at these pitchers. Also great to see Mac make the list as well, although I don’t know how he could have been left off. He fell a tick short of .300 on the season. Otherwise, his offensive numbers were very, very impressive. This is the cream of the crop in the system, ladies and gents, and they’re moving up to Richmond next year. Escobar may be moving to Fresno… as Sabean says, AA is the true test, not Fresno.

A quick recap on those BA rankings. As Giants affiliates go, I think the Eastern League and PCL are the only leagues that haven’t had top 20’s announced. Not sure if we’ll see anyone from the organization make either of those lists. Panik and Susac probably have the best shot for the EL. Maybe Heath Hembree gets a spot in the PCL 20? 10 Gigantes farmhands have made it onto their respective BA lists. The super 6 in the Cal, Chase Johnson in the NWL, and 3 more from the AZL. Christian Arroyo at #2, Mella at #14, Ryder Jones at #19. For those of you keeping score at home, that’s your 1st, 2nd and 3rd round draft picks all on the top 20 lists for their summer leagues. All of this from a Giants draft class that got laughed off the field by the national pundits in June. Interesting stuff.

That was a lot, but many good things going on in the depths of the Giants system these days. I have a feeling we’ll see a couple more of these kids crack the preseason top 100, but that’s still a long way off. For now, enjoy those videos, and we’ll catch up on the prospect front again soon as the AFL season gets rolling.

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(Conner Penfold/Giant Potential)