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Giants add eight players to 40-man roster

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Congratulations to Ty Blach, Clayton Blackburn, Kyle Crick, Ian Gardeck, Adalberto Mejia, Steven Okert, Jake Smith, and Chris Stratton, who are all *that* much closer to reaching the major leagues now.

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The Giants did a little procedural housekeeping on Friday, adding eight players to the 40-man roster. Oddly enough, all of the players were pitchers. Welcome to the even year. By adding these players to the major league roster, they aren't eligible to be pilfered in the Rule 5 Draft in December.

The eight pitchers are, in alphabetical order:

Ty Blach, a left-handed started with command who throws harder than you think ... but can't strike anyone out. Kirk Rueter for the 1997 Giants struck out 5.4 batters per nine innings. Blach struck out 5.1 for the 2015 River Cats.

But Blach has shown some pitching aptitude at every level with plus command, and he had normal peripherals in his Cal League debut after being drafted. He also seems like a good bet to help the big Giants out with some spot starts if someone gets hurt this year.

Clayton Blackburn is the likeliest pitcher on the roster to fill in unexpectedly, the Chris Heston of '16. He's been a safe, low-upside prospect for a while ... except he's still just 22 with a preternatural feel for pitching, with almost five strikeouts for every walk in his minor league career. He led the PCL in ERA last year, allowing six homers in 123 innings.

It's pretty hard to allow just six homers in 123 PCL innings. If the Giants can't sign or trade for two pitchers this offseason, Blackburn will have an inside shot at the gig.

Kyle Crick still throws hella hard. His curve is still hella freaky. And he just threw 16 straight balls in Ken Griffey Jr. Baseball, as he does. He struck out 13.7 batters per nine innings after he transitioned to relief. Just don't look at the walks DON'T LOOK AT THE WALKS.

Ian Gardeck is the first of two pitchers added to the roster who had Crick-like stats for years. He walked 6.4 batters per nine innings in 2013 ... and that was a career low. Yeeps.

Then, in the Cal League last year, he walked just 24 in 86⅔ innings, with his strikeout rate staying the same. The 16th-round pick has always had a mid- to high-90s fastball with a promising slider, but he couldn't find the strike zone. Until now. Even though he's turning 25 on Saturday (happy birthday!), that's not the kind of prospect you risk losing in the Rule 5 draft.

Adalberto Mejia was supposed to be the Chris Heston of 2015 before the actual Chris Heston, but he was suspended last year for 50 games after testing positive for the steroid Stanozololololol. He's still just 22, and he improved on his disappointing Eastern League debut in 2014, even if the strikeout-to-walk ratio wasn't that sexy.

Steven Okert is the pitcher I confused with Josh Osich for several years, which gives you a good idea of his skill set. Lefty. Throws hard. Might rule in the bullpen for a couple years. He's a pretty good bet to be in the majors before September.

Jake Smith is the other reliever who used to be a Crick, then turned into a Gardeck. The 48th-round pick didn't stop chugging with the strikeouts after being drafted, but he couldn't limit the walks. Then last year, in San Jose with Gardeck, he cut the walks in half. Now that he's on the 40-man roster, he has a chance to make a Cody Hall-like appearance next year.

Chris Stratton was the Giants' first-round pick in 2012, but he's moved slowly through the system, losing some strikeouts along the way. Like Baseball Prospectus writes ...

When it is all said and done, Stratton strikes me as a finesse, right-handed pitcher at the major league level with more control than command. I do not believe he will be able to miss enough bats to profile as anything more than a back-end starter.

Pretty much. As long as there's roster space, you probably don't want to give those guys away.

The best pitcher left unprotected in the Rule 5? Probably Martin Agosta, who ramped up the strikeouts and limited the walks this year, but probably not a good bet to stick on a major league roster next year, even in relief.

The Giants' 40-man roster is now full, which means if they add a free agent or two, they'll have to designate some players for assignment. For the first time in what seems like years, there isn't an easy option to ditch from the 40-man, so unless there's a trade, there's a gonna be a hard decision coming when the Giants sign Zack Greinke.

Until then, here are your new almost-Giants. You'll probably see ... four of them next year? I just wanted to let you know good luck, and we're all counting on you.