Last week Fla-Giant gave us his top 44 prospects list, and now its my turn to reveal who I like in the Giants' system. Fla does a top 44 list in homage to Willie McCovey; I'm of a younger generation so my list will reference the one Giant that dominates my childhood memories.
Procedural note: all ages I reference refer to their age during the season just completed. Ages are measured from June 30 of each year.
Without further ado, and in reverance to Barry Lamar Bonds, here are my top 25 Giants' prospects.
1. Gary Brown, CF, age 22 (grade A-): Brown killed it in San Jose this year to the tune of .336/.407/.519, good for a 140 wRC+. One big concern for him coming into the season was his plate discipline, but then he managed a 7.2% walk rate, which is perfectly acceptable. By all reports he plays a sublime center field, and his tendency to hit doubles and triples will help mitigate the poor offensive environment of Richmond, which tends to depress home runs first and foremost. He'll start next year in double-A and a September call-up is not out of the question, however unlikely.
2. Tommy Joseph, C, age 19 (grade B+): I love me some Tommy Joseph. The 19-year-old started off the season slow in high-A before really turning it on in the second half, hitting for a .921 OPS after the All-Star break. His 5.2% walk rate is a point of concern, but his .198 ISO is encouraging. Double-A will be a huge test for him, as he'll be one of the youngest players in the league. His defense appears to be good enough to stick behind the plate, and he threw out 37% of baserunners this season.
3. Joe Panik, 2B/SS, age 20 (grade B+): I was very impressed with Panik's debut this season at low-A Salem Keizer. In 304 plate appearances, he hit for a 144 wRC+ with more walks than strikeouts. A .126 ISO leaves a bit to be desired, but I think Panik is going to advance very quickly through the system and we could see his debut as early as September 2013. His defensive position is still a bit of a question mark. He played shortstop all season in low-A, but then played second base in the AFL. He'll likely get one more shot to see if he can stick at short, but second base is his most likely destination.
4. Kyle Crick, RHP, age 18 (grade B): Crick only got 7 innings of work this season since he signed very close to the August 15th deadline, then headed to the Arizona Instructional League for a little post-season work. He reminds me a lot of Matt Cain: drafted out of a southern high school, with an easy delivery that can pump the fastball up into the mid-90s. He's relatively new to pitching so he'll probably take a decent amount of development time, but he's got the future of a #2 or maybe even a #1.
5. Josh Osich, LHP, age 20 (grade B): Osich was originally projected to be a late first round or supplemental round pick, but injury concerns popped up right before the draft and he fell to the Giants in the 6th round. Injured arms are always a reason for concern, but I think the fact that the Giants felt safe signing him means they're not too worried about it. He also sat out 2010 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He's a 6'3" lefty with strikeout stuff; he threw a no-hitter against UCLA in April. His command is inconsistent at times, but his stuff is hard to match. The Giants will give him an extended look as a starter, but he could end up in the bullpen. I've given him an aggressive ranking and grade because I believe he'll stick as a starter.
6. Eric Surkamp, LHP, age 23 (grade B): Surkamp had a superb minor league season, followed by a less than stellar major league debut. Still, the 6'4" lefty has proven that, despite less than average stuff, he can get strikeouts. The key is in a very deceptive delivery and plus secondary pitches. Surkamp struck out 162 batters in 142.1 innings in Richmond this year. Despite a bumpy debut, Surkamp will begin the season fighting for the 5th starter spot with Barry Zito, and we should see a lot of him this year. I'm not convinced his stuff can get big league batters out, but his track record thus far in the minors indicates that he should have no problem maintaining at least a league-average strikeout rate.
7. Andrew Susac, C, age 21 (grade B): Susac signed late, and as such didn't log an professional innings this year. He broke his hamate bone in his left hand early in the college season, but rebounded to play very well. He excelled in his wood bat debut in the Cape Cod League in the summer of 2010, leading the league in slugging percentage. There are some questions about his defense; although he has a plus arm by all accounts, some scouts question his receiving skills, and a future position switch to right field is a possibility, although I believe that to be unlikely. His hitting approach also has some detractors, who note that he sometimes is caught looking off-balance. Perfect Game called him "the best all-round catching prospect in the 2011 college class." For now, I'm a bigger Tommy Joseph fan, but it is not hard to envision him as the Giants' best catching prospect in a system loaded with them.
8. Francisco Peguero, OF, age 23 (grade B-): Peguero has all the tools, but man does that walk rate scare me. Peguero notched a 1.7% walk rate in 296 plate appearances in double-A this season. I don't care how fast you are or how high your BABIP is, that is not going to cut it in the major leagues. Still, the tools (especially the speed) are hard to ignore, and scouting reports indicate Peguero is a very good fielder as well. This season is going to be huge for his development.
9. Clayton Blackburn, RHP, age 18 (grade B-): Blackburn was the Giants' 16th-round pick this season. He signed relatively quickly and logged 33.1 innings for the rookie league team, racking up 30 strikeouts against only 3 walks. After the season, BA ranked him the #4 prospect in the AZL. He comes at batters with a low 90s fastball, with a curve and a change as well. He's very raw and projectable, but I like this kid's future, and I believe that he can add a few MPH to that fastball and become an elite pitching prospect.
10. Heath Hembree, RHP, age 22 (grade B-): Hembree is the Giants' premiere relief pitching prospect. After being drafted in the 5th round last year and making a brief debut in the Arizona Rookie League, he made it all the way to double-A Richmond this year. His stats are impressive: in 2 stops, he struck out 78 batters in 53.1 innings, while keeping his walks manageable at 4.2 per nine. Barring a setback, it is not out of the question that he will make his debut next season, and he is the heir apparent to Brian Wilson for the closer's role.
11. Hector Sanchez, C, age 21 (grade B-): I have a confession to make: I have no freakin' clue what to think about Hector Sanchez. He raked in high-A to the tune of .302/.338/.533, but then in subsequent stops in Fresno and San Francisco promptly showed no power at all. As a teenager he showed good plate discipline and a willingness to take a walk, but seems to have abandoned that approach in his last two seasons. His defense, according to various scouting reports, ranges somewhere between average and above-average. Reports seem to indicate he's got a great arm, but his receiving skills need work. He'll begin next year in Fresno, and that will be a good barometer to see what kind of prospect the Giants have. For now, I'm not comfortable projecting Sanchez as anything more than a future backup catcher.
12. Ehire Adrianza, SS, age 21 (grade B-): Adrianza started the season out injured this year, so this easily could have been a lost year for him. However, after a slow start in Augusta he really turned it on in San Jose, hitting for a 119 wRC+ and a .165 ISO. Power isn't something Adrianza has shown before, and I'm very skeptical that its just a California-League-induced mirage. Still, his plate discipline is average and his defense is excellent, and Adrianza has a decent chance to crack the lineup in 2013. Moving up to Richmond is sure to test his bat.
13. Mike Kickham, LHP, age 22 (grade C+): Kickham had a wonderfully boring year in Augusta this year, striking out 8.3 batters per nine and walking 3.0 per nine in 111.2 innings. He's a low-ceiling, high-floor kind of pitcher who will likely make the majors, but I have trouble projecting him as anything more substantial than a 5th-starter type. Next year in San Jose will be a test.
14. Adalberto Mejia, LHP, age 18 (grade C+): Mejia had a stellar debut in the Dominican Summer League this year, striking out 71 batters and walking only 8 in 76 innings. He also had an eye-popping 1.42 ERA and a 1.88 FIP. I'm very excited for his stateside debut next year. He reportedly throws a high-80s/low-90s fastball and a slurvy type of breaking ball, in addition to an above-average changeup. His young age means its possible he can add 3-4 MPH to his fastball and really make a leap up these lists by this time next year.
15. Adam Duvall, 3B, age 22 (grade C+): Duvall absolutely raked in Augusta, with a line of .285/.385/.527 and 22 home runs. His defense seems to need some work, as he made 27 errors at the hot corner this year. He was a bit old for the level, and he'll be old for high-A next year, but I have little doubts he'll continue to hit in batter-friendly San Jose next season.
16. Joan Gregorio, RHP, age 19 (grade C+): Gregorio made the leap stateside from the DSL this season, and his performance in the Arizona Rookie League was an impressive one. His 2.32 ERA and 2.88 FIP was supported by a 7.7 K/9 rate, a 2.9 BB/9 rate, and a microscopic 0.2 HR/9 rate. Scouting reports are hard to find, so I don't have any idea what Gregorio throws, but hopefully we'll get a better look at him next year in low-A.
17. Enmanuel DeJesus, LHP, age 17 (grade C+): The only prospect on my list born in 1994, DeJesus made an excellent debut in the DSL this season. In 46.2 innings, DeJesus struck out 54 batters while walking 20, good for a 2.36 FIP. I'm likely selling DeJesus short with this low ranking, but he's so young and I didn't feel comfortable moving him higher up the list.
18. Chuckie Jones, OF, age 19 (grade C+): Last year at this time, Jones was a consensus top-10, and even top-5 prospect in the system. I'm probably underselling him here at #18, but he had a truly awful season at Salem-Keizer this year. A .615 OPS and a K/BB of 48/15 in 146 PA will do that. He's still young, but Jones desperately needs a bounceback season next year to revive his prospect status.
19. Kendry Flores, RHP, age 19 (grade C): Flores threw 48 innings for Salem-Keizer this season, and his 5.06 ERA is unfairly deceptive; he had a 3.60 FIP. He struck out 47 and walked 14 this season. He complements a low-90s fastball with a plus changeup and a fringe to fringe-average breaking ball. The move to full-season ball will be a big one for him.
20. Ricky Oropesa, 1B, age 21 (grade C): I'm not an Oropesa fan by any stretch of the imagination, but no one can deny the guy has a ton of raw power. He hit for a .710 slugging percentage his final year at USC, but also struck out over 20% of the time. He's average at best with the glove over at first. I'm never a fan of drafting one-dimensional players like Oropesa, but hopefully he can harness that power into a successful first season. I'd like to see him start the year in San Jose.
21. Jarrett Parker, OF, age 22 (grade C): Parker's first season in the professional ranks was a mixed bad. On one hand, he played an excellent center field, and he exhibited above-average plate discipline. On the other hand, he showed very little power (.397 SLG, .144 ISO), struck out way too much (144 K), and didn't hit for average (.253 AVG). Moving up to Richmond will be a huge challenge for him, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him repeat high-A.
22. DeMondre Arnold, RHP, age 19 (grade C): Arnold, the Giants' 25th rounder this year, had an impressive, if brief, professional debut. He struck out 32 and walked only 8 in 26.2 innings in Arizona. After relieving in the ARL this year, he'll likely move back into a starter's role next season. He works with a low-90s fastball, a low-80s changeup, and an improving curveball.
23. Lorenzo Mendoza, RHP, age 19 (grade C): He threw 73 innings for Salem-Keizer this year. His biggest attribute is his control; he only walked two batters per nine this year. Combine that with an 8.4 K/9 rate, and you've got yourself a pretty successful season. He'll face a big test moving up into full-season ball this year.
24. Jesus Galindo, OF, age 20 (grade C): He made the aggressive jump from DSL all the way to the Northwest League this year. He hit .276/.353/.364, with 47 steals against 8 CS. He has perhaps the best speed in the entire system. Two concerns are the complete lack of power, and a drop in his walk rate between 2010 and 2011. He'll likely be in San Jose next year.
25. Shawn Payne, OF, age 21 (grade C): Would I have ended it any other way? I love Shawn Payne. Drafted in the 35th round, he signed quickly and was promoted straight to Salem Keizer, where he split time between left and center field and hit .306/.431/.394 with 21 steals and 6 CS. His lack of power isn't a great sign, but his K/BB ratio is fantastic and he proved he can hit at a level where he wasn't much older than average. He'll hopefully make the jump to San Jose next spring.
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