I used to cover the farm system around here. Really, I did! But a few things happened:
1. The indefatigable steve S started providing his minor lines on a daily basis here, and those posts generated more intelligent prospect-related commentary in a single day than I could provide in a month.
2. I was tired of going back and reading stupid things.
3. The Giants won the World Series, and then they did it again.
The third one is the biggie. When I was projecting Thomas Neal to do great things, it's because I was daydreaming about him in right field for the first San Francisco team to win the World Series. Once the farm system made those championships happen -- with a successful parlay of first-round picks that we'll never see again in our lives -- the everyday allure of following the farm wasn't the same for me. I left the prospectin' to Steve and the others in the Minor Lines threads on the front page.
So imagine my surprise when I clicked on John Sickels's organizational rankings and hit "command- ↓" to get to the bottom of the page. You might have different ways to get to the bottom -- trackpads, mouse wheels, space bars -- but as long as you knew where you were heading. Except the Giants weren't at the bottom. They were right there in the middle.
17) San Francisco Giants (26): Strengths: Pitching! Kyle Crick, Chris Stratton, Clayton Blackburn are all strong rotation candidates for the future and there are some nice lefties too (Mike Kickham, Steven Okert, Josh Osich, Adalberto Mejia) plus bullpen material. Weaknesses: Hitting. I have a lot of mixed feelings about Gary Brown, Joe Panik, and Francisco Peguero. Can Mac Williamson be the needed impact bat?
Well, how about that? The Giants are right in the middle of the pack, which is mighty impressive considering how close they were to the bottom last year. Considering that the Giants still have a nice collection of under-30 talent locked up for several years, with Posey, Sandoval, Bumgarner, Cain, Belt, and even Brandon Crawford, it wasn't like the dearth of top prospects was terrifying from a short-term standpoint. The Giants had young players, they were just doing nice things in the majors instead of minors.
But it's still nice to have a good farm, dang it. Imagine how great it would be to have Zack Wheeler, for example. His presence would allow the Giants to spend their money elsewhere on the roster next offseason. Instead, the Giants won the World Series after advancing past Carlos Beltran in the NLCS, probably because he didn't try. So the Giants still came out ahead. It sure would be swell to have Wheeler back, though.
The two prospects who will be near the top of most lists (including Sickels's) are Kyle Crick and Clayton Blackburn. First, the stats for Crick:
Dig that lone homer allowed. It was probably wind-aided, too. And Blackburn:
Quite nice, and the scouting reports on them are glowing, as well. If they seem far away, that's because they are. But some success in the Cal League here, an aggressive promotion to the Eastern League there, and you'll see them quicker than you think. Heck, Madison Bumgarner is already an old man of 23. How did that happen so quickly?
Anyway, this is supposed to be a post directing you to John Sickels's ranking. So go. And note that the Giants aren't on top of the prospect world, but they're pretty close to the top of the under-30 world right about now. Also, on top of the world world. Because of the World Series.
(And I still believe in Eric Surkamp. Come back, my left-handed friend! Come back healthy!)