It's been a long offseason for Giants prospect hounds, with all sorts of top-100 rankings featuring Kyle Crick and only Kyle Crick as the Giants' representative. Rejoice, though! Baseball America has their annual top-100 list out, and they've given love to Edwin Escobar, who ranked #56.
Escobar followed a breakout season with a strong winter in Venezuela. Maintaining his higher arm slot and the improved breaking ball that came with it will move him up the ladder.
Crick ranked #33, which is a fairly aggressive ranking for him. BA wrote:
Listen to the Ninja. Giants pitching guru Dick Tidrow has a great track record of shepherding power arms to San Francisco, and with a little polish Crick shouldn’t be too far away.
But let's focus on Escobar for a couple of reasons. First, he's far, far more likely to get to the Giants in 2014 than Crick, as he's already on the 40-man roster. He also reached Double-A last year, and there's a chance that he could start in Triple-A this year.
Second, we don't get enough Escobar around here. Crick has a marshamarshamarsha thing going on with Giants prospects, and it's not fair.
Third, here's a quote from Bruce Bochy this spring:
"He looks ahead of where he was last year, to be honest," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who stood with Sabean while watching Escobar throw a side session Monday. "He has a different look about him this spring. I think he sees he’s a guy who’s in the mix and also knocking on the door right now. He’s coming out of the chute throwing the ball better than last spring."
That's from Andrew Baggarly's nice writeup on Escobar, which includes in great detail the lengths the Giants went to acquire him.
It's worth remembering that Ben Snyder was a decent-enough prospect at the time he was taken by the Orioles in the Rule 5 Draft (before getting claimed by the Rangers), but he probably wasn't a top-500 prospect at his pick. It was quite the nifty move to transmogrify him into Escobar, who could be the Mike Kickham of 2014. By which, I mean he could make it to the majors this year, not that he'll allow six runs for every pitch he throws.
A video of Escobar, by way of Conner from Giant Potential:
On the 20-to-80 scouting scale, on which I grade pitchers on how much better they are at throwing baseballs than I am, Escobar is a pure 80. But so are Casper Wells and Wilson Valdez, so ... well, never mind. But Escobar sure looks good in that video, alright.
The Giants don't have a first-base prospect with 40-homer potential, or a center fielder with all five tools. But they have a couple top-100 pitchers, according to Baseball America, including one who could help the team this year. When you consider the team's short-term needs, it could be worse.
Looking forward to Escobar, even as a single tear rolls down my cheek while thinking of Eric Surkamp.