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2016 Prospect Round-Up...of the Year!

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It's been a hell of a year. Also, in the minors. The Giants debuted their all-time top-paid international prospect, traded away a bunch of top prospects, including that one. And all of a sudden, there are outfielders. Outfielders, everywhere! Roger and Kevin take a moment to wrap up the season's top Minor (Story) Lines!

Welcome to the Minor League Round-up of the season!  The two of us wanted to get together and give ourselves a chance to talk about the season, the future of the Giants and the changes in the minor league system after all the activity this year.  Let us know what you think in the comments…I’m sure I got one or two things wrong.

Minor (Story) Lines

Roger: You start!

Kevin: In that case, I’d start off with perhaps the one statement Giants fans don’t want to hear, but that I’ve believed for a while and this season confirmed: The Giants are no longer a system for Pitching Prospects.  Since Madison Bumgarner, the Giants have five pitchers picked in the first round.  None became established in the Majors, with two having been traded away.  Take that number to the first four rounds, and out of 14 pitchers drafted, only 4 have made the majors, and only a handful seem like serious candidates to stick in the bigs.

Roger: I don’t disagree with this.  I’ve said before, they are a talented development org but they’re not Pitcher Whisperers. And I don’t necessarily mean that as a knock. Nobody is. Ultimately it’s on the player and some players can get better and some can’t and some have tough breaks and injuries on the way.  That said, what we’ve seen the last couple years has involved a few talented arms taking backwards steps. Primarily Kyle Crick of course, but this season was a disastrous one for the Brothers Johnson and a confusing one in a few ways for guys like Coonrod, Suarez, and Blackburn.

That said, I think a really fascinating story line this year was the divergent paths of Tyler Beede and Phil Bickford.  Bickford was something of a blazing comet who provided confusion and questions and amazement and even now with him two months gone I really have very little idea what we actually saw from him or what we should look forward to.  Beede on the other hand, built himself into something very like a model of consistency, which given his long history of inconsistency is possibly one of the least predictable development leaps I can think of in recent history.

Kevin: I definitely agree about the two Big B’s.  The Giants have taken a lot of guys who have had a modicum of control problems, to put it mildly.  Even before Beede, you had Stratton on that list as well.  And it’s continued this year with Matt Krook, who has promise, but so did them all.  Even extending that to the bullpen, especially with San Jose’s big 4 of last year, with Black, Slania, Smith and Gardeck.  All four were high velocity guys with a touch of wildness, and I doubt anyone would have seen coming the very divergent paths that happened to those four.

Roger: What do you make of Slania’s season? It had a few odd twists.

Kevin: Dan Slania’s season was like watching a Youtube video of some guy doing a wild stunt on a bike too small for him and a path that is far too long, where you’re cheering on every second and yet dreading the moment the concrete gets it’s due.  But I sure would have given it an upvote!  I don’t think he’s a long-term starter, but I didn’t think he would have been short-term one either, and boy was I wrong.

But the reality certainly is that since Bumgarner, the Giants have taken a lot of high-risk pitchers, and the risks have not been playing out all that well.  And although Beede looks like a Major Leaguer to me, the Giants may be paying a little bit of a price for that decision, both in terms of the free agent cost of signing Samardzija and Cueto, but also in acquiring Matt Moore.

Roger: I totally agree with you that the org has paid heavy price for failing to develop the Strattons and Cricks of the world both in terms of $$ and talent. I like the Matt Moore deal, but that was a price you choke down and swallow hard.

2007 was also the last draft that Tidrow really had his hands on before John Barr came in and Tidrow more or less moved on to more major league duties as Sabean’s right hand man. Possible the conclusion to draw here is that truly nobody can replace the Ninja.

Kevin: Just like no one could replace Bonds in left field.  What do you think of the job Barr has done, now that it’s been long enough to see some of the fruits of his drafting come around?

Roger: Barr’s done an enviable job. They seem to virtually always find productive major league talent. Other than 2008, their drafts tend to sit more in the B report range I suppose than the bonanza A++ types. But of course, they’ve nearly always drafted from the back of the round over the course of his time running drafts and that’s not unimportant. They’ve done a great job of honing in on the type of talent they can develop.

I suppose if there’s a criticism to make it’s that the profile of players they do well with is fairly narrow. By and large they’re great with up the middle college guys with contact skills and a resume of wood bat success.  What they haven’t been able to develop very well are the toolsy, dynamic athlete types and that’s partly shown up in their inability to get traction on trade talks for the elite guys (Hamels, Miller). But it’s also true that the guys who are the big trade chips (Clint Frazier, Gleyber Torres etc) are also top 5 pick types or top 2 or 3 IFA signees. So again, that’s a competitive disadvantage.

Kevin: So, what was one of your big storylines for the season?

Roger: Well, I guess for me a big storyline is that, out of nowhere, OF depth is suddenly the strength of the system.  Which is good, because it seems there’s going to be some OF needs in the near term future!

Kevin: Near term or right now?

Roger: Both!

Kevin: Do you think that they could trust either Mac or Jarrett to become the starting left fielder next season?

Roger: Or a platoon? That’s going to be a fascinating part of the offseason. I almost think they have to. The thing I keep coming back to is that next year they’ll start the year with at least 5 starters (assuming Nunez is a starter) over 30. Baseball is a young man’s game right now and they need to start getting young somewhere. Signing another 30+ guy to play LF doesn’t help the situation.

Not that Parker is particularly young LOL! Or 29 year old Gorkys!

Kevin: That’s very true about age, though Parker at 28 next season and Williamson at 26 aren’t particularly young either.  I’d love to see what Williamson could do in the majors without getting Jimmyjacked around like he did this year.  But I’ll be honest, I just don’t see the team doing it.  The bullpen got all the press for being the team’s downfall in 2016, but the offense did not do well either.  I think it’s reasonable to expect a bounce back from Pence and Panik, but I don’t think fans or ownership will let Bobby Evans not address the offense in the offseason, and I just don’t see anywhere else for him to do it.

And with Gorkys having done so well, and frankly feeling like the next Gregor Blanco, I’m not sure that we could even see both Williamson and Parker on the Major League roster next season!

Roger: What I think was interesting/encouraging about the emergence of the OF was that it took place at almost every level. At the top you had Mac and Parker establishing themselves as credibly productive major leaguers and right below them Austin Slater breaking out, Steven Duggar have a big first year. Then Dylan Davis with the power explosion. And down in rookie ball Sandro Fabian having a statement first year. And then add to all that the way the draft broke to deliver them two really excellent OF at the top of their draft class in Reynolds and Quinn.

I’d really love to see Mac get sustained playing time as well. One thing that he really really has to do though is stay on the field. His medical jacket is really starting to get long at this point.

Kevin: How do you see the big three outfielders from the 2016 draft playing out?  Brusa’s certainly the biggest question, but all three were very, very good.

Roger: Very good. I really think they got a steal in Quinn. College corner OF have a tendency to fall down the board on draft day and especially small school ones. But he’s a big athletic kid with huge raw power who also showed a fantastic approach and all around offensive game this year. I’m excited by him. And Reynolds gets a ton of scouting love. I just saw Eric Longenhagen (at Fangraphs) say the other day he thought he might have Reynolds at #2 in the system. He strikes out a ton but you know he’s hit everywhere he’s ever been. And I have to say I have a life-long fascination of switch hitters!

How do you see them shaking out?

Kevin: All this from a system that hasn’t developed a real everyday outfielder in way too damned long.  I admit that I was shocked at first on draft day seeing so many outfielders so high from them.  I was also a bit scared that Bryan Reynolds might be a bit of a Ben Copeland kind of pick, good all-around skills but not high enough in any of them to make it.  But Reynolds really started to make a believer out of me.  That contact needs to get better, and bring down those strikeouts, but he will be a lot of fun to watch in San Jose next year.

You know, though, I’m starting to think that maybe Austin Slater might need to try moving back to second base to get a chance now!

Roger: Here’s a tangent question but it’s related: what becomes of Chris Shaw and/or Brandon Belt? I know lots of people say Shaw has to be traded but I struggle with the idea of this org passing on a chance at having his power in their lineup. That’s a legit 25-30 HR bat.

Kevin: I’m not so sure it’s Shaw that has to be traded.  You mentioned Mac’s injury jacket, but Belt’s got one of those as well.  And Belt has one of those swings that is just so high-maintenance, it leads to these prolonged slumps.  Now that being said, Shaw has a lot to prove.  Upon his promotion to Richmond, he struggled mightily at the new level.  He did have a very encouraging August, so I’m hopeful, and I think that if Shaw gets strong enough to be knocking on the door, it’s Belt that goes out the door when it’s answered.

That said, there’s no replacing Belt’s height and reach defensively, helping all the infield look better by getting their throws.  Nunez will need him more than anyone…if he stays the starter at third.

I’d ask you what you think of Shaw’s future, but I think I know the answer to that.

Roger: Yeah, I think Shaw’s a dude! I think he’s a dude and I think Quinn’s a dude. What can I say? I dig the long ball!

But I also like speed! Should we discuss the short, unhappy Giants life of Lucius Fox?

Kevin: Talk about shocking!  And that would go right into one of the other storylines I thought about this season, the Giants using their prospects for trades in a bigger way than I think I’d ever seen.  Going into the deadline, I thought the Giants had three untouchables, and Fox was one of them.  He was brand new, he was ridiculously young, and he was underperforming.  It wasn’t surprising to me that he was struggling, moving straight to Augusta, and I thought it was obvious how much upside he was.  But that’s hardly the prized kind of prospect that teams will give a big return on.  While we watched the names in the Matt Moore trade come out, Duffy’s name in it was a gut punch, but seeing Fox’s name in it was like I was a trainer talking to A.J. Pierzynski.

Roger: The killer part about it (other than the lost athleticism in an org that can use more of it) is they’re still under punishment on the IFA market for the Fox signing next year. And apparently if MLB gets it’s way with the international draft you won’t be able to cut to the front of the line on that market just by spending $$$ anymore. So maybe Lucius was the last chance at a big IFA bonanza.

The tortured history of the Giants million dollar IFA signings: Angel Villalona, RafRod, Gustavo, and half a season of Fox.

Kevin: Ha, we may need to do another chat about what will be done, and what should be done, about the International Free Agent system in baseball.

And nowhere in Giants baseball does the word torture seem to get as literal as with the IFA history.

Roger: ahem. yes.

I would so love to see Gustavo able to take steady playing time next year. He’s so fun to watch and so gifted physically, but oh those thousands of lost reps.

Kevin: And not just that, but perhaps no injury could be as haunting as what Gustavo went through.  What about his injury stint for, what was it, hand irritation?  I am afraid his grip on the bat may never be the same.

Roger: The great article that Baggs wrote in spring touched on the issue of skin irritation in his skin graft and the various things they need to keep the graft from stiffening up too much. It’s painful to think about all the things Gustavo’s gone through to try and play the game.

Kevin: Perhaps the team feels better about the Fox trade with Jalen Miller in the system, though his story was pretty much the same as Fox’s.  The athleticism is obvious, but the ceiling probably won’t be as high.  Still, however, I may have never seen an amateur player bring as much hope to the fanbase as the Fox signing did.  And the loss of hope among the fanbase will be felt for a while as well.

Roger: Jalen Miller was overwhelmed this year, but you’re right that he represents youth and athleticism in a system that isn’t overloaded with either. He has great bat speed and there’s a player in their somewhere. 2017 is a big year for Jalen to step forward.

You know I love me some Jalen, though. I’m a believer though it might be a slow process.

Kevin: Agreed.  Now, beyond Fox, what do you think about the system after the 2016 draft?  What little starting pitching prospects there were got decimated with Mejia and Bickford getting traded as well.  And then, without a first round draft pick or IFA signing ability, there really wasn’t the same level of top level player injection to make up for it.

Roger: Their approach to pitching in this draft was fascinating. Since they didn’t make a P selection until the 4th round they went completely after the crazy risk/crazy reward profile. If you were a college Pitcher who threw EXTREMELY HARD and have no idea where the ball is going, the Giants were coming after you this year. Krook, Garrett Williams, Stephen Woods, Reagan Bazar. The Giants went after the highest variance profile they could find and they just kept going there.

Kevin: This is absolutely true.  It doesn’t feel like there was a pitcher that you could get excited about without putting the word “cautious” in the same statement.  And there are a lot of those guys in the system.

Roger: Like you, I’m worried about how thin the pitching is at this point. I’ve always been a fan of Blach’s (though I don’t know that the rotation will be his calling necessarily) and Beede definitively surprised me with his gains, but after that SP become scarce in a hurry, even of limited upside profile. They’ve got some interesting relief arms, particularly Black, Rodolfo and Moronta (and the returning Gardeck) but neither Black nor Rodolfo handled AA particularly well. And they’re quite thin in infield prospects or Catcher.

Here’s one for you: next year is the final option for Joan Gregorio. What does his future hold?

Kevin: Yeah, the relievers in this system are the most confusing group.  This is perhaps the biggest group of 98 MPH+ throwing pitchers I’ve ever seen in this system, but few of them seem all that trustworthy.  Rodolfo was awesome in San Jose, and yet he had a completely unprecedented meltdown (statwise in performance) in Richmond.  Black is exciting to watch, when healthy.  Add in Tyler Rogers the submariner, and this bullpen group is crowded and unsure.  And then, with Matt Moore in the system, you’ve got Blackburn and Gregorio (and perhaps further down, other borderline starters like Coonrod) who might need to become relievers to get a chance to be Major League Giants.

Gregorio is definitely bullpen bound.  Even if you take Moore’s acquisition out of it, the Giants need bullpen hope at the highest level.  Although the team has a lot of options there, and almost certainly is going to spend tons of money on the bullpen, they’ll want to have other options.  Especially if Bochy keeps trying to change pitchers every batter.

Roger: I vote Corey Taylor as most likely to turn out to be Joe Biagini! Hard sinker and a sharp slider and nothing else. Gimme some of that!

Kevin: Oh man, I remember having those hopes with Brad Hennessey.

Okay, one for you.  Take the guys that were in the Majors out of this candidates for this question.  You need to pluck three relievers from the system who could change the Major League bullpen in 2017.  Which three?

Roger: As much as I love sidewinders and incline to want to say Rogers, I think I have to go with Gregorio, Black, Martinez.  I know that it looks like it would take a huge turn around to make the latter two major leaguers within a year, but when you throw that hard, it’s not a huge leap to imagine some small adjustment that clicks it in place.

Kevin: I agree on Black and Martinez, but I would throw Rogers into the group.  I think that his motion is as much of a tool for someone like Bochy to use, to bring a true changeup to the team.  If the Giants keep bringing in more heat-throwers like Strickland, there’ll be too many that other teams can time up for.  But then again, especially Black’s heat is game-changing.

Roger: And actually I want to insert Gardeck in there as well. Burt Bradley said something this year that certainly made it sound like Gardeck’s on the Strickland/Law rehab calendar and likely to be in SF come late season.

Kevin: That’s good to hear that Gardeck seems to be doing well, and it will be interesting to seem him back in the mix next year.

Roger: I do definitely agree that bringing guys from the pen with different looks is a benefit to the overall group. That’s part of the Derek Law charm! I can see Rogers succeeding for sure.

Kevin: Do you have any other Storylines for this past season to bring up?

Roger: I wonder if Adalberto Mejia got confused when he got to Minnesota and ran into Rogers’ twin brother? Hey, didn’t I just leave you in Sacramento?

Kevin: Haha…

Roger: I think we covered the highlights.

Kevin: Alright, how about one thing to wrap things up here…one storyline for 2017 that Giants fans should watch.  Do you want to go first, or should I?

Roger: Well I’ll cheat and name a few. First thing for me is always: did the big names in the system continue to progress or back track, so how Arroyo, Beede, Shaw, Reynolds, Quinn do is absolutely storyline #1 for me. And then second, do any of those high variance Pitchers we talked about earlier take steps forward? And then finally, does Jalen Miller start to put things together and put his skills to production use?

Kevin: Those are good ones, but I think I’ll pull out two names in particular to watch: Do Arroyo and Beede step up as the anointed future Major Leaguers, especially as they have spots waiting post-2017?  And, if you cheat, then I’ll cheat as well, and say that the 2017 draft will be key for the Giants system in terms of talent acquisition, especially after this season and the IFA restrictions.  But…will we have a first round pick?

Roger: I’m going to say.... Yes. I think they’ll target Melancon over Jansen as their big relief pickup and thus keep the pick. (though I prefer Jansen)

Kevin: I think I agree, and just please no Chapman.  Thanks for taking the time to do this, Roger!

Roger: Thank you Brute! This was fun! We should it do it more often.

Kevin: Yes…yes we should.  (hint hint)

The 2016 System All-Stars

We have no rules on this, as you might see.  And in some ways we have some very different ideas of what the All-Stars were.

First Baseman

Kevin - Chris Shaw - .267/.335/.484 - Richmond (AA) and San Jose (High-A)

The system does not have the deepest selection of first basemen right now, but Chris Shaw is heads and shoulders above the rest.  Shaw burst on the San Jose scene with 16 home runs in 72 games at San Jose, but had some troubles initially in Richmond.  However, a strong August helped give more than just a silver lining to his season.  A return to Richmond should solidify his prospect status in 2017.

Roger - Chris Shaw

There was a slight blip upon first being promoted to AA but on the whole Shaw’s full season debut was a huge success, hitting .267/.335/.484 with 21 HRs, showing elite LH power. Shaw’s now the top pick from the Giants 2015 draft, so he carries the torch for that class going forward.

Second Baseman

Kevin - Ramiro Pena - .296/.361/.431 - Sacramento (AAA)

At 31, Ramiro Pena is not a prospect, and a significant portion of his season was performed at the major league level.  But in just 57 games at Sacramento, he had more home runs than he had in any other season (5), and had an excellent all-around season in terms of getting on base and performing.  His future with the system in uncertain at this time.

Roger - Kevin Rivera - (SK) - .320/.352/.435 - Salem-Keizer (Short-A)

The 20 year old former 14th rounder from Puerto Rico had a breakout year, that included a trip to the Northwest League/Pioneer League All Star game, hitting .320/.352/.435 over 66 games in short season ball. As an added bonus, the third year player hit the first three HRs of his professional career. Want a sleeper pick for a pop up guy in 2017? Keep your eye on Rivera.

Third Baseman

Kevin - Miguel Gomez - .330/.363/.519 - San Jose (High-A) and Augusta (Low-A)

His season got off to a late start, but when it finally started, Gomez made people talk.  He only hit better and better as the season went on in Augusta, his average getting closer to .400.  In San Jose, Gomez did not have the same on-base performance but hit for increased power.  The reportedly 5’10 23-year old has talent, and isn’t prototypical, but this season he proved he’s for real.

Roger - Christian Arroyo - .274/.316/.373 - Richmond (AA)

I could have gone with Arroyo at SS, but he played as many games (48) at 3b as he did at SS and this allows me to get Hinojosa in the list.  As the second youngest position player in the Eastern League, Arroyo hit .274/.316/.373. His HR power from SJ (predictably) dried up, but Arroyo was third in the EL with 36 doubles. All while learning two new positions, including his likely long term home at 3b. Next challenge for Christian? Learning to put himself in hitters’ counts. Arroyo hit .344/.464/.492 when ahead in counts this year, but just .199/.207/.271 when behind.

Shortstop

Kevin - C.J. Hinojosa - .274/.348/.393 - Richmond (AA) and San Jose (High-A)

The 22-year old Hinojosa had a good debut campaign in 2015 with Salem-Keizer, but started the season stronger in San Jose.  Hinojosa showed excellent on-base skills to the plate.  While his performance waned in the second half after a promotion to Richmond, Hinojosa moved faster than anyone would expect an 11th round 2015 draft pick to go.

Roger - C.J. Hinojosa

11th round pick Hinojosa exploded in his full season debut hitting .296/.378/.442 in 69 games in SJ before earning a mid-season promotion to AA. Hinojosa cooled off in the final month of the year, and had a rugged time of it defensively with the speed of the AA game, but his overall batting line of .274/.348/.393 was still one of the great surprises of the year.

Catcher

Kevin - John Riley - .274/.369/.404 - Salem-Keizer (Short-A)

There was some slim pickings here, with the top two prospects missing time from trades and injury.  Riley, a 31st round pick, was a local high school pick in 2013, and he finally came into his own in his third season.  The power output wasn’t as strong as he’d shown in past season, but he was hitting enough to make things work better for him.

Roger - Matt Winn - .233/.320/.395 - Richmond (AA), Augusta (Low-A)

In his first full year Winn hit .233/.320/.395 with 15 HRs playing in two very difficult home ballparks (Richmond and Augusta). Winn was the runner up for the Johnny Bench Award for best defensive college catcher at VMI. Add occasional HR power and some walks and you have a profile that’s gotten others a big league career.

Outfield -

Kevin -
LF - Dylan Davis - .283/.356/.521 - San Jose (High-A), Augusta (Low-A)

Davis had a solid start to the season with Augusta, but he really exploded in San Jose.  He had 18 home runs in 63 games at San Jose, which gave him the season lead for the level.  The former 3rd round pick is coming off an uninspiring 2015 season at San Jose and Augusta, so part of his play may have come from repeating the levels.  He’s likely to get his shot in Richmond next year, turning 24 in July.

CF - Steven Duggar - .302/.388/.448 - Richmond (AA), San Jose (High-A)

Duggar stepped forward this season, showing off his athleticism and his prowess at the plate.  Unlike a lot of San Jose players that got a midseason promotion to Richmond, Duggar stepped up when he got to Double-A.  Like all players, he has areas to improve, but he might be the best natural center fielder in the system, and certainly is one of the most promising.

RF - Heath Quinn - .344/.434/.564 - San Jose (High-A), Salem-Keizer (Short-A), AZL Giants (Rookie)

The Giants had a strong slate of outfielders this year, but the team’s 3rd round pick had one of the draft’s strongest performances.  In 60 games, Quinn’s nine home runs and .344 batting average over 60 games were as impressive as anyone’s in the system.  The outfield is full of prospects, but Quinn was perhaps the best of them all.

Roger -
OF Austin Slater - .305/.393/.500 - Sacramento (AAA), Richmond (AA)

Slater blistered his way through 2016 hitting .305/.393/.500 with a career high 18 HRs. A lot of those HRs came in the desert climes of the PCL but Slater has done nothing but hit since signing his pro contract, hitting .305 over five levels and three years. He’s played 2b and CF, even a few games at SS, but he’s likely going to be a corner OF guy at the highest level. How well the power plays could have a lot to do with how high he ultimately climbs.

OF Bryan Reynolds - .313/.363/.484 - Augusta (Low-A), Salem-Keizer (Short-A)

The Giants highest pick in the 2016 draft hit .313/.363/.484 in his pro debut which included a late season promotion to the Sally league and even a playoff stint promotion to SJ. The switch hitting CF has championship pedigree as a starter on Vandebilt’s national championship team, and is likely on a fast track.

OF Steven Duggar - .302/.388/.448 - Richmond (AA), San Jose (High-A)

Possibly the biggest pop up star of the year in the Giants’ system, the 2016 6th round pick had a tremendous full season debut, hitting .302/.388/.488 over two levels. His power didn’t join him on the promotion to AA but still his final 60 games in the Eastern League were a revelation as he hit .321/.391/.432 in the tough hitting environment while transitioning to CF (he’d played RF in the Cal League).

OF Heath Quinn - .344/.434/.564 - San Jose (High-A), Salem-Keizer (Short-A), AZL Giants (Rookie)

The 2016 3rd round pick from Samford University had a very very loud pro debut, hitting .344/.434/.564 with 9 HRs in 60 games.  A model of consistency, Quinn reached base in 39 of his final 41 games with Salem-Keizer, which included a 20 game hit streak. He led the NWL in OPS and finished one HR off the league lead (behind teammate Gio Brusa) and was named Baseball America’s short-season Player of the Year.

OF Sandro Fabian (AZL) - .340/.364/.522 - AZL Giants (Rookie)

That’s right I have five OF on my All Star squad! Sue me! But they were all really great! The 18 year old Fabian had a true statement year, putting up a very loud .340/.364/.522 in the Arizona rookie league. Fabian’s not overly toolsy but he has a knack for hard contact (also clutch post-season HRs, but that’s another story). If his 2017 is anything like his 2016, he could zoom up the organizational prospect lists.

Right-Handed Starting Pitcher

Kevin - Tyler Beede - 8-7, 2.81 ERA, 1.28 WHIP

This shouldn’t be a surprise.  Through a series of changes, Beede emerged as the top pitching prospect in the system, but it also had a lot to do with his performance.  In Richmond, his control and velocity both showed upticks in scouting reports.  One interesting side of Beede’s game was that more balls were in the air.  That led to 9 home runs given up, his highest in a season, but he kept things under control.  Beede will be in Sacramento next season, and on the doorstep of the majors.

Roger - Tyler Beede

Beede started out 2016 looking much like he had in 2015: keeping runs off the board with low strikeout totals and lots of groundballs. But somewhere in late May he started mixing in his four-seam fastball more and by the second half he had blossomed into a very new pitcher. Both his strikeouts and walks started increasing, while groundballs turned into pop ups and flyballs. Beede finished second in the EL in strikeouts while leading the league in ERA. And he did so with a true four pitch mix that included a four-seam fastball that registered in the 97 range through much of the second half of the year. AAA here we come!

Honorable Mention: Joan Gregorio

Left-Handed Starting Pitcher

Kevin - Ty Blach - 14-7, 3.43 ERA, 1.14 WHIP

Again, trades whittled this side down.  But Ty Blach had a superb season in Sacramento by any measure.  His 3.43 wasn’t quite as strong as Blackburn’s last season, but Blach put his stamp on his status as a prospect, and not just with his memorable turn in the rotation late in the season.  Blach isn’t overpowering, but he’s always been efficient, and could easily be a back-of-the-rotation guy or a bullpen guy.  He’s going to be fighting for a spot on the Major League roster in 2017.

Roger - Ty Blach

Blach began the year surrendering 11 runs in his first 14.2 IP (hellllooo Salt Lake City!). He ended the year with a crucial 8 innings of shutout ball against the Dodgers and some post-season heroics. In between he led the PCL in Wins and had a sensational 8-start stretch in which he surrendered nine total runs while throwing two CG ShO and even flashing some strikeout stuff.

Relievers

Kevin -
Reyes Moronta - 2.59 ERA, 93 K, 20 BB, 59.0 IP, 1.07 WHIP - San Jose (High-A)

Moronta spent the first half in San Jose has a power setup man, and the second half as the second most-overpowering closer on the team that year.  The 23-year old really had an eye-opening year, after three seasons of limited time and getting hit hard.  This year everything changed thanks to his ability to get the strikeouts, and not give so many free passes.  The real question going forward is if he’ll be able to maintain that in Richmond.

Rodolfo Martinez - 3.35 ERA, 50 K, 10 BB, 53.2 IP, 1.43 WHIP - Richmond (AA), San Jose (High-A)

Rodolfo really had two seasons.  The fireballer was money in the first part of the season with San Jose, and after he finally gave up some runs, he was promoted to Richmond and crumbled.  Control was one of the issues plaguing him, but another was that he became ultimately hittable in Richmond.  That brings to light his biggest flaw as a fastball pitcher, a lack of strikeouts.  Rodolfo may end up setting up his former setup man in Richmond to prove he can get back to being effective.

Caleb Smith - 2.35 ERA, 54 K, 22 BB, 38.1 IP, 1.10 WHIP - Augusta (Low-A)

The 24-year old Smith was definitely old for the level in Augusta, but he was one of the bright points in their bullpen.  He didn’t get a lot of time in the star closer role.  Smith’s effectiveness came from his ability to to miss bats, with just a .147 batting average allowed.  Smith may jump levels and find himself in Richmond next season, especially with all the need for relievers the Giants may have.

Roger -
Reyes Moronta -

Moronta spent the first half of the year as Rodolfo Martinez’ excellent setup man, and then took over closer duties with Martinez’ mid-season promotion. While he got stung with an occasional ill-timed HR (7 on the year), Moronta’s 38% K rate (14.2 K9) over 60 IP was the greatest display of bat-missing dominance in the system. Moronta was especially death on RHH who hit just .131 off of him and struck out in 50% of their PAs.

Tyler Cyr - 2.32 ERA, 89 K, 25 BB, 73.2 IP, 1.09 WHIP - San Jose (High-A), Augusta (Low-A)

Cyr spent much of the first half absorbing as many innings as Augusta’s beleaguered bullpen could throw at him before ending the year at the back end of the San Jose pen. Between the two levels the 23 year old RHP threw 73 IP while striking out 90 batters and holding opposition to a .211 BAA. He also ran up bushels of gorundouts, as his power sinker proved hard to lift.

Rodolfo Martinez -

Tough call. Rodolfo crashed and burned into AA where he almost completely lost the strikezone AND his feel for his slider. But Martinez was so automatic in the Cal league that he led the league in saves despite getting a promotion after the All Star game. Over the course of 32 games in San Jose, Martinez allowed just 3 ER, converting 21 of 23 save opportunities. Martinez also left his mark on that All star game, lighting up the radar at 101.  Now about that AA experience...

Bench -

Kevin - Angeddy Almanzar, Kevin Rivera, Ali Castillo, Ryder Jones, Bryan Reynolds, Austin Slater, Gorkys Hernandez, Sandro Fabian
Roger - Dylan Davis, Jalen Miller, Ryder Jones, Jonah Arenado, Ali Castillo, Manuel Geraldo, Ashford Fulmer

That’s it for 2016.  There’s a lot of news to come this offseason, and we’ll be around.  Lurking.  Waiting.

Maybe until the Rule 5 Draft.