Cove Chatter 100 Honorable Mention: The Righties

Luis Pino | RHP, 18 yo, 6-0, 275 | IFA 2011 MX | (AZL) 14 G, 6 GS, 29.2 IP, 3.94 ERA, 30 H, 18 BB, 26 K

Pino is a young, slender righty who the Giants signed out of Mexico a couple years ago. There’s almost no information about him out there at this point, but he’s held his own in the rookie leagues as a very young player. His K/BB rates lead me to believe he may have above average stuff, but doesn’t always know where it’s going.

Chris Johnson | RHP, 22 yo, 6-4, 205 | 2012 Draft – 17 | (A-) 15 GS, 83 IP, 2.49 ERA, 65 H, 8 BB, 78 K

2012 pick from the U. of Portland got his second shot at Salem-Keizer this summer, and posted pretty dominant numbers, including a 0.88 WHIP and a staggering 78k/8bb. He looks like he short-arms the ball a bit, but he should take his low-90’s fastball and four pitch mix to Augusta next year.

Johnson Video:

Jose Casilla | RHP, 24 yo, 6-1, 210 | IFA 2006 DR | (A+) 43 G, 67 IP, 3.22 ERA, 74 H, 13 BB, 48 K

Santiago’s brother missed 2012 with TJ surgery, but showed solid command in San Jose this season. He had a breakout season as Augusta’s closer in 2011 with a mid-90’s fastball prior to his injury, so his 2014 placement could be worth following if he can dial the heat up again.

Cameron McVey | RHP, 25 yo, 6-5, 205 | 2011 Draft – 22 | (A-) 22 G, 42.1 IP, 3.19 ERA, 34 H, 14 BB, 48 K

McVey was a standout closer for NAIA Biola U. in Southern California before the Giants picked him in the 2011 draft. He’s one of the older guys on this list, and doesn’t have much pro experience, but he’s a big-bodied reliever with a low-90’s fastball that’s performed pretty well in limited work as a professional reliever.

McVey Article:

Jacob Dunnington | RHP, 23 yo, 6-2, 160 | UFA 2009 | (AAA, A+, A) 14 G, 20 IP, 3.60 ERA, 17 H, 10 BB, 29 K

His name sounds familiar (don’t confuse him for Jake Dunning), but his profile is a bit of a mystery. Undrafted out of high school, he signed for $2,500 at 19 as a 150-lb twig and burst onto the scene in 2011 as one of Augusta’s top relievers. He’s got a live arm and a 95 mph heater that can rack up strikeouts in bunches. His 2013 season was a curious one, as injuries cost him most of the year. He’s still young though, and could be a nice breakout candidate in 2014 if he’s healthy.

Dunnington Article:

Eury Sanchez | RHP, 20 yo, 5-10, 170 | IFA 2011 DR | (AZL) 14 G, 7 SV, 16 IP, 1.12 ERA, 12 H, 4 BB, 26 K

Sanchez is smaller for a pitcher, but the 12.3 K/9 he’s posted in his first two seasons suggest he’s got some nice velocity in that right arm. He made his debut a year later than most DSL prospects, but he’s posted dominant numbers as a closer over two summers in rookie ball. He doesn’t have many professional innings to his name at this point, so the organization should increase his workload next season and see how he responds.

Raymundo Montero | RHP, 24 yo, 6-2, 185 | IFA 2007 DR | (A-) 25 G, 14 SV, 29.2 IP, 1.82 ERA, 20 H, 7 BB, 43 K

He’s been in the organization for six years, so it’s time for him to get moving a bit if he wants to make it. His 2013 season as the closer in Salem-Keizer was pretty impressive, earning him NWL All-Star honors. Maybe we’ll finally get to see what he can do in full-season ball next year.

Jorge Bucardo | RHP, 24 yo, 6-4, 190 | UFA 2007 NIC | (A+, A) 32 G, 6 SV, 53.1 IP, 2.36 ERA, 39 H, 14 BB, 49 K

Nicaraguan righty was once a promising starting pitcher prospect in the organization. Shoulder injuries kept him out all of 2011, most of 2012, and again for a good chunk of 2013. When he was healthy, he spent most of this season in Augusta’s bullpen. Don’t know if he’ll ever be a starter again, but maybe the Giants will give him a shot in San Jose next year… if he can stay on the field.

Bucardo Article:

Chris Heston | RHP, 25 yo, 6-4, 185 | 2009 Draft – 12 | (AAA) 19 GS, 108.2 IP, 5.80 ERA, 129 H, 46 BB, 97 K

Finesse righty had a pretty impressive minor league career prior to this season. He was supposed to be one of the first pitchers the Giants called upon for help in 2013, but his season in Fresno was a mess from the start. He was taken off the 40-man roster and actually cleared waivers, so I’d say his stock makes Gary Brown look like gold at this point. He’s still a talented pitcher though, but he needs a bounce back effort big time next year. It’s a long way from AAA to the Show.

Heston Video:

Dunnington

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Mid-Season Top 40 Prospects: #12

#12: Mike Kickham – LHP, 24 yo, AAA: Kickham has had an interesting year, to say the least. After posting a 3.05 ERA in 27 starts at AA Richmond in 2012, he made a few spring training appearances this year and was assigned to Fresno for Opening Day. It was pretty well known that he or Chris Heston would get the first looks if the Giants needed a starter at some point. Kickham had mixed results in 10 starts. However, he’d found a pretty good groove in mid-May (when the Giants just happened to need a starter) and got the call when Chad Gaudin was placed on the DL. Kickham went right into the fire, making his ML debut in Oakland against the red-hot A’s. He didn’t do well, giving up 4 ER in only 2.2 IP. He’s been back and forth from Fresno and San Francisco ever since, losing all three of his starts at the major league level. Lately, Bochy’s called on him as a long reliever, and the Giants indicated they may give him a longer look out of the bullpen. In fairness to Kickham, however, all of his big league starts have been on the road… Oakland, LA, and Cincinnati.  That’s a pretty rough way to start your major league career. For that reason alone, I think he deserves a longer look (as a starter) in San Francisco.

Kickham was a 6th round draft pick out of Missouri State in 2010, so he certainly didn’t come out of nowhere. Oddly though, after a full season in Lo-A Augusta in 2011, the Giants promoted him straight to Richmond, skipping Hi-A San Jose in the process. That doesn’t happen very often, so maybe the org. thought his stuff was ready to play at a higher level. Coming into 2013, Kickham earned some mixed reviews on the prospect lists. MLB.com, for example, ranked him #12 in the Giants’ system, while I saw him slotted as high as 4th on a couple other sites. We’ve seen what he can offer at this point. Funky three-quarters delivery, low-90’s fastball, slider and curve with lots of movement, and a changeup he tosses in from time to time. His stuff can be live enough at times to do this, while at other times so flat it gets crushed by Mark Ellis. For a guy with swing-and-miss stuff, Kickham sure has gotten hit hard during his brief time in the bigs. In 18 IP, he’s given up 30 hits and 6 home runs. That’s really bad. But he’s also struck out 21 batters in those same 18 innings, so he’s definitely got the potential to be dynamic if he can harness his control.

I’ve written quite a bit more about Kickham than most other prospects on this list. Not because I think he’s any better or more interesting, but because he’s the only player on this list who has seen time at the big league level. We’ve all seen him play against the highest competition, so there’s a bit more to say about him.  He’s certainly still a work in progress, but here’s my take on him right now. If the Giants continue to sit in the cellar come August and September, Kickham needs to be in the rotation, auditioning for a job on the 2014 team. It’s pretty clear the Giants will be looking to fill some combination of Timmy, Zito and Vogey’s rotation spots, so there’s no reason Kickham shouldn’t be able to prove whether he belongs or not. The same can be said of Eric Surkamp if he’s healthy. Either way, I hope Kickham can figure out his control. He’s kind of a cool looking guy with his mullet and goggles, and I think he’d be a guy the fans could get behind. If he can’t find that control, however, he’s probably destined for a short career in the bullpen.

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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.