Updates on the Top Prospects, #1-10

It’s been a month since we finished our mid-season top prospects list, so I wanted to take a few minutes to look at how these guys are holding up through the summer. There are certainly a few guys who’ve helped or hurt their stock big time, and I’m constantly re-evaluating the system. Luckily, the top 5 guys are all doing fairly well, although I don’t know that they’ll all be able to keep their lofty spots in the organization come off-season rankings… not if guys like Edwin Escobar have anything to say about it.

#1 Kyle Crick, RHP, San Jose | 11 gs, 1-1, 1.78 era, 50.2 ip, 38 h, 32 bb, 69 k.

Crick has been inconsistent with his control at times, but his fastball is baffling Cal League hitters this summer, and he’s keeping runs off the board. If he can stay healthy, I don’t think an Arizona Fall League assignment would be out of the question for Crick this year.

#2 Chris Stratton, RHP, Augusta | 19 gs, 8-3, 3.11 era, 113 ip, 107 h, 41 bb, 114 k.

I thought Stratton might get a second-half promotion to San Jose, but it looks like he’ll be staying in Augusta for the remainder of the season. While there are certainly other pitchers in the system whose stars have shone brighter than his right now, Stratton has actually been very consistent. He’s also been better lately, allowing only 2 ER over his last four starts.

#3 Clayton Blackburn, RHP, San Jose | 20 gs, 7-5, 3.62 era, 117 ip, 97 h, 28 bb, 119 k.

Blackburn has lived up to his workhorse reputation this year in San Jose, giving the Giants a competitive effort on the mound every 5th day. With guys like Crick, Escobar and Mejia pitching around him this year, it’s been very easy to overlook Blackburn. But that would be a huge mistake, as the 20 year-old has really been on a tear lately. He’s 5-2 with a 2.80 ERA over his last 10 starts. I would say his stock is holding strong.

#4 Martin Agosta, RHP, Augusta | 15 gs, 8-3, 2.03 era, 79.2 ip, 49 h, 34 bb, 97 k.

Agosta has been dominant when he’s been on the mound this season. His 49 hits allowed and 97 K’s in 79 innings indicate his dominant stuff, but durability has been an issue in the past couple of months for the 2nd round pick. He’s made only 5 starts since June 1, and is currently on the DL with a blister. He’s already missed some time with dead arm this summer, so his health is definitely a concern right now. But I’m sure the Giants would really like to get his electric arm back on the mound sooner rather than later.

#5 Mac Williamson, OF, San Jose | 115 g, .277/.360, 20 hr, 67 rbi, 42 bb, 115 k, 9 sb.

Mac has done nothing to hurt his value this summer after a slow start to his first full professional season this spring. He hit .320 in June and .321 in July, with a combined 13 HR. He’s cooled off a bit in August so far, but his bat and defensive skills make him one of the top position player prospects in the system. The real test for Williamson will obviously be Richmond, but his season in San Jose has been pretty impressive.

#6 Andrew Susac, C, Richmond | 84 g, .256/.362, 12 hr, 56 rbi, 42 bb, 68 k.

Susac’s season thus far has been pretty consistent with his overall scouting report. He’s shown power while posting an OBP 100 points higher than his average, yet battled injuries for most of the summer in Richmond. This may seem like a simple analysis, but Susac really has had a nice season, especially for a guy who hit only .244 with 9 HR in San Jose last year. The former 2nd round pick is coming along nicely, both at the plate and behind it. If he can just keep himself on the field with more consistency, I’d think he could be ready to break out in Fresno next year.

#7 Gary Brown, CF, Fresno | 115 g, .230/.289, 12 hr, 46 rbi, 29 bb, 115 k, 13 sb.

Brown’s stock is fading pretty quickly these days. After a terribly cold start in Fresno, the former top prospect heated up in June, adding the long ball to his repertoire. However, his bat has gone cold again, to the tune of .233 in July and .247 in August. The Giants could really use his elite defense in San Francisco, but his bat just hasn’t developed as hoped to this point. Maybe he needs another season to make some adjustments at the dish.

#8 Joe Panik, 2B, Richmond | 117 g, .266/.341, 4 hr, 47 rbi, 50 bb, 50 k, 10 sb.

Panik is another curious case for the Giants and their top hitting prospects. He’s had his ups and downs in Richmond this season. After going ice cold in June, he’s finally starting to get his average up again with a .368 line in August. He continues to show excellent plate discipline, as well as a lack of power. He’s probably done enough at this point to move out of the dreaded Eastern League next season, but it remains to be seen whether he’ll hit enough to play every day in the big leagues.

#9 Gustavo Cabrera, CF, DSL | 44 g, .231/.375, 0 hr, 14 rbi, 28 bb, 45 k, 17 sb.

Cabrera, the 17 year-old bonus baby, has held his own in his first taste of professional baseball. After hitting .200 in the month of June, he posted a .413 OBP in July, and is 8-23 so far in August. Cabrera’s ability to take a walk and steal a base should make the Giants feel good about his game so far. Not incredible numbers for a top prospect, but for a kid who’s as young and raw as he is, I think he’s doing just fine.

#10 Heath Hembree, RHP, Fresno | 47 g, 26 sv, 4.15 era, 47.2 ip, 47 h, 15 bb, 58 k.

Hembree has been anointed the Giants’ closer of the future at times during his minor league career, but he seems to have stalled in AAA. After spending most of the season in Fresno last year, he’s been stuck in the Pacific Coast League again this year as well. The Giants needed bullpen help badly while Santiago Casilla was out, but never called Hembree’s name. Hembree’s ERA isn’t amazing, but I think he’s done enough to earn a call to the show. Not sure what the hold-up is at this point.

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Roger Kieschnick’s Debut (and some other stuff, too)

**Edit** I should know better than to post during the trade deadline. Forget what I wrote about Wilson. He took a minor league deal with the Dodgers. Can’t blame the guy for wanting to join a contender, but come on man, the Dodgers?!

Yesterday was a pretty eventful off-day for the Giants, including a visit to the White House (if you haven’t seen the picture of the team with President Obama, it’s pretty awesome, and I might have to tag a link to it) and a bus ride from D.C. to Philadelphia. Also included in the day was a major stir created by the greatest BS’er among the Giants’ beat writers, Baggarly, in which the Giants were making some roster moves and a trade was possible. Of course, people are already on edge this time of year with the trade deadline so close, so you can imagine the fiasco that ensued. It’s amazing to see the bevy of emotions people have regarding Hunter Pence and Tim Lincecum.

Ultimately, the scandalous roster moves resulted in Brett Pill and Roger Kieschnick getting called up from Fresno, with Kensuke Tanaka optioned and Tony Abreu placed on the DL to make room. For Pill, the return to the bigs came just a day late, as he was on a plane while guys like Moscoso, Francoeur and Tanaka were on the White House lawn. I know this game is a business, and I’m sure Pill would never put up a stink, but it’s pretty embarrassing to me that they couldn’t have gotten him to D.C. with the club. He’s put in his dues for the organization, that’s for sure. Oh well.

Kieschnick will be making his big league debut, which is pretty exciting for those of us who have followed his play since the Giants drafted him in 2008. Four years ago, Kieschnick was the Mac Williamson of the organization, putting up impressive power numbers in the California League. Like many prospects, he stalled out a bit in AA thanks in large part to nagging injuries. After spending a second season in Richmond, he worked his way up to Fresno for Opening Day 2012. He started the season on fire, flashing his signature power with 15 HR by the end of May. But another injury likely cost him a shot at a promotion last summer. He returned to Fresno this year, healthy, and has had an up and down season to date. He’s a .273 hitter with 13 HR and an impressive 49 extra base hits, but he still averages a strikeout per game… Contact has always been an issue with him.

Now, Roger K. is on his way to The Show, and I for one am excited. He’s a big, athletic guy with a powerful left-handed bat and a very strong outfield arm. Let’s hope the Giants give him a real chance to show what he’s capable of. I mean, he can’t do any worse than the rest of the lineup has lately.

Some other thoughts:

The latest report on MLBTraderumors has the Giants now saying they will definitely move Javier Lopez by tomorrow. I think most of us were expecting this. He’s one of the best situational lefties in the game, and Bochy’s bullpen will significantly take a hit when he leaves. But the story goes that he wants to be closer to his home on the East Coast. Yesterday I read Sabean was asking for a ML ready starting pitcher for Javy, which is probably not going to happen now that they’ve made it known he’s going to be dealt. That kind of lowers your leverage a bit, if it doesn’t kill it altogether.

Not much change on Pence and Lincecum. The Giants want to bring them both back next year, or at least make them a qualifying offer. However, they still won’t say they aren’t going to trade them. It’s a bit of a strange situation, but I don’t think you’ll see Tim going anywhere. There’s no way he’ll get much of a return, in my opinion. Pence is another story, but I get the feeling the Giants think they will regret trading him. Honestly, who knows what happens here. I don’t think the Rangers have enough to offer, but Pittsburgh and Cincinnati certainly do. If one of those two really wants the Rev, Sabean can get pretty particular with names. Both clubs have some serious talent on the farm, so that could be fun.

Lastly, it sounds like we’re down to three teams in on Brian Wilson: Pirates, Dodgers, and Los Gigantes. Personally, I think we are the best fit for Wilson (if the money is right). The Giants are looking for someone to give them a shot of life, and Wilson is looking to audition for an offseason contract. Both may be able to happen if he spends the final couple of months in San Francisco. Many probably see him as a waste of time for the Giants, but I really think the team needs him as much as he needs them at this point. Just my take, maybe you disagree.

Minor League Report: Weekend Edition

Two Up

Mac Williamson, OF | San Jose (Giants’ #5 prospect): 5-11, 1 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBI. Mac continues to stay red hot with the bat this summer. On Saturday night, he clubbed his 18th and 19th home runs, and owns a .378 average over his last 10 games. If he can keep this up for the rest of the summer, the Giants have a very serious power prospect on their hands.

Edwin Escobar, LHP | Richmond (#17): 1 GS, 7.1 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 9 K, W. Escobar was the first member of the juggernaut San Jose rotation to earn a promotion to Richmond, where he hasn’t shown any signs of letting up. Sunday, he put on a show against Akron, striking out 9 hitters over 7.1 shutout innings. He’s now made four starts at AA, with a 3.00 ERA. Escobar is starting to push the envelope with the Giants.

One Down

Joan Gregorio, RHP | Augusta (#25): One start after throwing 7 no-hit innings, Gregorio got shelled Friday night. In probably his worst start of the season, he allowed 8 ER and 11 H in 2 innings of work. Starts like these are why Gregorio kind of fell off the radar a bit after last season. He’s been a great story this season, reportedly throwing mid-90’s in his last start. It’ll be interesting to see how he responds to this outing next time out.

Mid-Season Top 40 Prospects: #5

#5. Mac Williamson – OF, 23 yo, Hi-A: The Giants took Johnathan Mackensey “Mac” Williamson in the third round of last year’s draft out of Wake Forest, where he was a 1st Team All-ACC selection as a redshirt junior in 2012. In his three seasons with the Demon Decons, his right-handed bat hit 36 HR, including 17 his final year. Upon signing with the Giants, the collegiate power hitter was assigned to the Arizona League, where he dialed up the long-ball twice in four games. He was quickly bumped to Salem-Keizer in the NWL, and continued to hammer professional pitching for the rest of the summer. Between the two levels, Mac hit .321 with 9 HR in 33 games, enough for most prospect hounds to take notice. He was assigned to San Jose this season, and has really heated up since the end of May. In 51 games between April and May, he hit 6 HR with 56 K’s. In 42 games since, he’s hit over .300 with 11 HR and 46 K’s. While the strikeouts are still higher than you’d like to see, he’s raised his OBP to .356 and has really flashed his power this summer.

Let’s keep something in mind: The Giants don’t have any elite hitting prospects in their system, but they do have some guys who profile as above average big leaguers. Williamson tops the list, as he’s not only built like a brick (6’5”, 240 lbs), but he offers probably the best power bat in the organization, along with the athleticism to play all three outfield positions. From what I’ve read, he’s got a great arm to boot… BA ranked him the #1 pitching prospect in North Carolina his senior year of high school. At this point, his biggest weakness (and probably the thing that kept him from being a 1st round pick) is his contact rate, which will likely never be amazing. However, if he can continue to get on base and hit for power, he’s got a future in a Major League outfield. He’s starting to show off his tools on a nightly basis, and you can bet the Giants are taking notice.