Cove Chatter 2015 Giants “All-Farm” Team

Christian Arroyo | Photo c/o Larry Goren | Four Seam Images via AP Images
Christian Arroyo | Photo c/o Larry Goren | Four Seam Images via AP Images

Sorry for the major lack of posting lately. Trying to run a classroom and a blog simultaneously has proven very difficult for me over the last month, but I’m working to put a few posts together with the season winding down. I’d never done an organization all-star-type post before, so I thought this would be fun. Just keep in mind, this group is statistic based. This is not an “All-Prospect” team, but more of a prospect “All-Star” team. You will find some of the top prospects in the system on this list, while others will be noticeably absent.

There are no hard and fast “eligibility rules” for this list. Some of these guys are prospects, some graduated to the majors, and others still bounced up and down a bit. Please, don’t get hung up on that kind of stuff. This is supposed to be for enjoyment. So let me know what you think! I did select a 2nd team, but I haven’t done the write-ups for those guys yet. I’ll try to get it posted in the coming days. Thanks for reading!

MVP: Matt Duffy, 3B, San Francisco – .299/.339/.434, 11 HR, 73 RBI, 11 SB, 4.5 WAR | I’m obviously breaking the nonexistent “rules” here as he didn’t spend a day in the minors all year… but I don’t care. Duffy has been the organization’s breakout player for 2015. He’s one of the steadiest bats and gloves in the National League. What a huge win for the farm system, and for us prospect watchers who’ve been rooting for him over the years.

First Team

C: Aramis Garcia, Augusta/San Jose – .264/.342/.431, 15 HR, 66 RBI, 40 CS% | A slow offensive start gave way to a summer surge for Garcia in Augusta, who showed improved defense and one of the strongest arms in the system. He’s a clear top 10 prospect in the organization right now.

1B: Chris Shaw, Salem-Keizer – .287/.360/.551, 12 HR, 30 RBI | Shaw was a 1B/OF at Boston College and one of the best power hitters in the Cape Cod League last summer. The Giants plucked him in the supplemental first round, and he led the short-season NWL in Home Runs despite only playing in 46 games and logging 200 PA. That’s a 36-HR pace over 600 PA, so it’s evident why the Giants believe in his bat.

2B: Kelby Tomlinson, Richmond/Sacramento/SF – (minors) .321/.376/.414, 3 HR, 21 SB | (majors) .275/.338/.362, 1 HR, 5 SB | Kelby looked like a completely new hitter during his second full season in Richmond. The Giants moved him up to Sacramento where he kept on producing at the plate. When Joe Panik went down, I felt very good about KT’s ability to pick up some slack at 2B. After some early defensive jitters, he settled in nicely while giving the Giants steady at-bats almost every night. He was a serious candidate for my “prospect MVP” award.

3B: Miguel Gomez, Salem-Keizer – .319/.331/.442, 6 HR, 52 RBI | The 22 year-old C/DH/3B made his stateside debut after spending three summers in the DSL. He’s a switch-hitter who is extremely aggressive at the plate… and all he did was hit this summer for Salem-Keizer (coming within 1 or 2 games of the all-time NWL hit streak record). He’s still a pretty unknown commodity, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Giants push him to San Jose next spring.

SS: Christian Arroyo, San Jose – .304/.344/.459, 9 HR, 52 RBI, 5 SB | He missed some significant time to injury for the second season in a row, but when he was healthy, all Arroyo did was hit. Ultimately he was the SJ Giants offensive player of the year, and at 20 years old he appears on the fast track to the majors (not that the Giants need any middle-infielders at the moment). AA will be a big test for him next year, but he’s the #1 prospect in the system for me right now.

LF: Hunter Cole, Augusta/San Jose/Richmond – .301/.358/.474, 9 3B, 9 HR, 63 RBI, 7 SB | Strong first full season for the 2014 26th round pick out of Georgia. He spent some time in the infield, but the Giants moved him primarily to RF once he was promoted to AA. With the Giants current MLB/AAA outfield situation, he’ll likely return to Richmond next spring.

CF: Johneshwy Fargas, Augusta – .278/.347/.349, 2 HR, 59 SB | The young, Puerto Rican CF has impact speed and arm strength. If his bat can develop, he’ll likely be one of the top prospects in the system. San Jose should be a good test of his hitting abilities next season, and he still has plenty of time to develop.

RF: Jarrett Parker, Sacramento/San Francisco – (minors) .283/.375/.514, 23 HR, 74 RBI, 20 SB | (majors) .370/.414/1.074, 6 HR. 12 RBI, 1 SB | If this were the all-prospect team, Mac Williamson would have undoubtedly been my pick here. But I’m going on overall performance, and Parker had his best season as a pro for Sacramento this year. Oh, and did I mention he just clubbed THREE HOMERUNS in Oakland?! That’s 29 big flies on the year…. whoa. After looking rather unassuming in his brief MLB stint in June, I’d say Parker’s surge this month has put his name in conversations for next year’s roster.

SP: Chase Johnson, San Jose/Richmond – 124.2 IP, 111 H, 2.82 ERA, 3.0 BB/9, 9.3 K/9 | The former Cal Poly reliever took a giant leap forward in his second professional season. He got a small taste of AA late in the year, allowing 24 baserunners and striking out 18 batters in 13.2 IP. He maintained a mid-90’s fastball and hard curveball all season, and his breakout performance puts him among the top arms in the system for me.

SP: Sam Coonrod, Augusta – 111.2 IP, 103 H, 3.14 ERA, 2.7 BB/9, 9.2 K/9 | Converted college closer tamed his previous control problems this summer in Augusta. He mixes a sometimes upper-90’s heater with a very good slider. Whether he’s a starter long term is still up for debate, but at the moment Coonrod’s stuff and results are getting rave reviews around the baseball world.

SP: Clayton Blackburn, Sacramento – 123 IP, 127 H, 2.85 ERA, 2.3 BB/9, 7.2 K/9 | Keeping AAA hitters in check is a difficult task for any pitcher, regardless of age. Blackburn is 22 years old and the owner of a PCL ERA crown. He transformed his body over the winter, and the results were obvious as he dominated down the stretch. His fastball won’t ever blow up a radar gun, but his ability to mix speeds and locate his pitches has played at every level in the minors. His next test is a MLB tryout.

RP: Jake Smith, San Jose – 84.1 IP, 50 H, 2.35 ERA, 16 SV, 2.2 BB/9, 12.6 K/9 | Smith was one of the Cal League leaders in strikeouts despite pitching out of the bullpen the entire season. From start to finish, he was a major contributor to a dominant Giants relief corps that made it all the way to the CAL Championship Series. The MLB draft was cut down to 40 rounds a few years ago; Smith was a 48th round selection in 2011. Don’t let that fool you… this guy has a big league arm.

RP: Josh Osich, Richmond/Sacramento/SF – (minors) 41 IP, 26 H, 1.32 ERA, 21 SV, 2.6 BB/9, 9.0 K/9 | (majors) 23.2 IP, 18 H, 1.90 ERA, 2.7 BB/9, 9.1 K/9 | Osich’s stuff returned to form this season, and the Giants have reaped the benefits. With Jeremy Affeldt’s contract expiring this winter, Osich might be looking at a full-time MLB job next spring. When he’s right, he’s one of the most electric arms in the bullpen.

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Mac Williamson and the Eastern League Plunge

This is kind of an unusual post for me. I’ve been doing quite a bit of number crunching lately, and I wanted to share some of my findings. Long story short, it’s prospect ranking season, and I didn’t feel that Mac Williamson was getting the credit he had earned with his play in San Jose this season. I said as much in the comments over at DrB’s site, “When the Giants Come to Town” (Note: DrB has Mac #5 in his Giants top 50, so I certainly wasn’t complaining about his ranking there). Before you mock me, I’ll make it clear that I am fully aware of the hitter-friendly tendencies in the High-A Cal League, as well as the pitching-driven AA Eastern League. But I have seen a lot of unfair knocks on Williamson lately around the web… many from Giants fans. The old write off of, “He had a good year in San Jose, but there’s no way he holds up against the advanced pitching in AA.”

So, I wanted to know, just what are Mr. Williamson’s chances of excelling next year in Richmond? I also wondered whether the fact that Mac’s a right-handed hitter would help his chances, as it seemed to me (complete speculation) that lefty hitters had struggled more than righties in Richmond in recent years.

Here’s what I did in my attempt to answer these questions. Using Baseball Reference, I found 20 samples (10 right-handed, 10 left) of recent Giants prospects who’d played in both San Jose and Richmond, and measured the average decrease – or, rarely, increase – in their OPS. In all, I compared nearly 20,000 total plate appearances over five seasons, and I’ll admit the results were pretty eye-opening (and even somewhat promising).

A few things to keep in mind:

Players whose names are italicized have MLB service time.

The chart is sorted by the final column, which is the difference in OPS between SJ and Richmond. The players whose OPS dropped the least (or rose) are at the top.

The Giants AA affiliate moved Richmond in 2010, so I didn’t use any AA statistics from before that time (i.e. no Brett Pill).

I only included players who were right around or younger than league average (*Johnny Monell was 25 at AA in 2011). Essentially, nearly all of these guys were considered “prospects” at the time.

The ages/years listed are from the player’s season with Richmond. I did not include their age/year with San Jose. The average age of an Eastern League hitter from 2010-2013 was 24.4. The average age of a Cal League hitter in the same time was 22.7.

For players who repeated either San Jose or Richmond, I usually included their first season at each level. *The two exceptions to this are Angel Villalona, whose 2009 season at San Jose I omitted, and Roger Kieschnick, because his first stint in Richmond was cut short to injury. Kieschnick is also one of the prominent players that Williamson gets compared to, so I thought it beneficial to include both of his seasons in AA. For this reason, you’ll see his name twice (compared against his 2009 SJ season in both instances).

The average Eastern League OPS from 2010-2013 was .723.

The Average OPS in the Cal League from 2009-2013 was .767.

That should give you enough information to understand these numbers. If you have any questions about my thought-process or additions for me to consider, please don’t hesitate to address them in the comments section.

RH Hitters

Year

Age

PA (Rch)

OPS (Rch)

PA (SJ)

OPS (SJ)

Diff

Susac

2013

23

310

0.820

426

0.731

0.089

Villalona

2013

22

209

0.686

309

0.711

-0.025

Duvall

2013

24

430

0.785

598

0.814

-0.029

Joseph

2012

20

335

0.705

560

0.787

-0.082

Peguero

2011

23

296

0.763

538

0.846

-0.083

Culberson

2011

22

587

0.675

551

0.797

-0.122

Perez

2011

24

497

0.684

596

0.809

-0.125

Dominguez

2011

24

313

0.675

279

0.802

-0.127

Brown

2012

23

610

0.731

638

0.925

-0.194

Neal

2011

22

585

0.799

559

1.01

-0.211

RHH Totals

22.7

4172

0.732

5054

0.823

-0.091

LH Hitters

Year

Age

PA (Rch)

OPS (Rch)

PA (SJ)

OPS (SJ)

Diff

Parker

2013

24

524

0.785

571

0.757

0.028

Gillaspie

2010

22

540

0.754

530

0.750

0.004

Belt

2010

22

201

1.036

333

1.121

-0.085

Panik

2013

22

599

0.68

605

0.77

-0.090

Monell

2011

25

441

0.728

472

0.837

-0.109

Kieschnick

2011

24

501

0.737

563

0.876

-0.139

Noonan

2010

21

406

0.584

530

0.727

-0.143

Oropesa

2013

23

259

0.562

583

0.763

-0.201

Kieschnick

2010

23

246

0.673

563

0.876

-0.203

Crawford

2010

22

342

0.712

119

1.045

-0.333

LHH Totals

22.8

4059

0.725

4869

0.852

-0.127

All Hitters

8231

0.729

9923

0.837

-0.108

Findings:

First off, I forgot how good Thomas Neal’s season in San Jose was. Holy smokes! On the flip side, Gary Brown in Richmond, yikes…

To the heart of the matter, though. These 19 players were once (or still are) some of the top hitting prospects in the organization. As a whole, this group was 70 points above average in the Cal League. In Richmond, 14 of the 19 were at least a full year younger than the Eastern League average, and as a group they (all 19) had an OPS 6 points above the league average. So, despite them losing 108 points in OPS (on average) from SJ to Richmond, 11 of these guys were still above average hitters in the Eastern. So the prognosis isn’t all bad. But wow, lefty hitters really take a hit in making the jump. Even in his second – and more successful – stint in AA, Kieschnick’s OPS still dropped 139 points from what he’d done in San Jose. On the surface, it appears that lefties really don’t struggle in Richmond any more than righties do, as I wouldn’t consider a 7 point difference to be all that dramatic. But, if you remove Brandon Belt’s 1.036, it drops the average OPS for the group down to .714… that’s below league average, and quite a bit lower than the average for the righties as well. So, for some reason, lefties do tend to have a harder time in Richmond. Especially when you consider that they fare better (on average) than righties in San Jose. If you remove Brandon Crawford’s inflated OPS in 119 PA, it drops the lefty average to .831, but that’s still higher than the .823 RHH mark.

One other thing I will note that caught my eye here. You’ll notice that the three top spots for righties and the top lefty are all 2013 Flying Squirrels. That’s some pretty sweet stuff, especially for an organization that gets knocked for its lack of impact bats. I know Susac didn’t play much in the second half, but can you see why people around these parts are getting excited about him? An 89 point spike from SJ to Richmond is very, very impressive. What about Parker and Duvall? What the heck are those guys doing? Don’t they know their numbers were supposed to fall off in the monster Eastern? Maybe those power numbers shouldn’t be taken too lightly… a .785 OPS in the EL is nothing to sneeze at.

Finally, Mr. Mac Williamson, the focus of our study… Mac began last season at 22 years old (turned 23 in July), and compiled an .879 OPS. The age factor isn’t really a big deal to me, but it should be noted that he’ll be a little young for the EL next year. His OPS in SJ was better than all but four of the guys on this list. So, how will the jump affect him? Until the games are played next summer, none of us can really know for sure. But based on the 8,000+ PA in Richmond of top Giants prospects before him, I’d say it wouldn’t be a shock to see Mac’s OPS drop 100 points. His BA and OBP are likely to take a hit, but if he can maintain a slugging % above .475, he should be just fine. Mostly, he just needs to stay healthy and take his hacks. If the average drops near the Mendoza line, then it might be time to panic.

Here’s my take. If Williamson struggles in AA, he certainly won’t have been the first Giants prospect to do so. He’s set such a high bar for himself in SJ that he certainly has a lot to live up to in the coming years. But if Susac, Parker and Duvall can all post an OPS of .785+, I think Mac will be all right. If he posts anything north of .850, it’ll be time to get very excited. For now, I’ll look for something in the neighborhood of .795-.815 with about 17 HR, and cross my fingers for anything better. So, I guess I would say yes, Williamson could certainly conquer the Eastern League, even if his numbers won’t blow anyone away. In my opinion, he’s one of the premier hitting prospects in the organization… and I hope to be saying that again next winter.

Mac  Williamson

(Kenny Karst/MiLB.com)

Cove Chatter 100: #44

Jarrett Parker | OF, 24 yo, 6-4, 210, BL, TL | 2010 Draft – 2 | (AA) 131 G, 524 PA, .245/.355/.430, .785 OPS, 18 HR, 13 SB, 11 CS, 60 BB, 161 K

He was drafted one round behind Gary Brown in 2010, and has now caught up to the former first round pick after having to repeat San Jose in 2012. Offensive performance has been pretty consistent between the Cal and Eastern Leagues, including surprising power numbers from the left side this year in Richmond. He was assigned to the AFL, where he showcased some pretty good defense in CF. Has an athletic 6-foot-4 frame. Strikes out in bunches, but can take a walk as well. His success on the bases fell pretty drastically with the move up to AA. He wasn’t protected on the 40-man this month, but he still has a chance to pass Brown in the pecking order next year if he performs.

They said it: “He made a lot of good adjustments in spring training. I think Kenny Joyce has done some good things with him to kind of smooth out his mechanics a little bit, simplified it, and he’s swinging the bat good right now,” ~ Dave Machemer, Richmond Manager

Parker Video:

Image

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.

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.