|Original Published Date: December 30, 2014|
If you want to look to build a baseball juggernaut, you have to turn to the San Francisco Giants. After all, it’s not about MVP awards or the top minor league system, it about championships. With three in five years, well, that’s about as good as it gets.
Over the past ten years, the Giants have drafted well with names like Posey, Bumgarner, Belt, Lincecum, and Cain becoming household names. They also did well in the free agent market by adding excellent complementary players such as Hunter Pence and Angel Pagan. Together, it has worked. Sure, they’ve made their share of mistakes. Beltran for Zack Wheeler…Yikes. Signing Lincecum for two-years and 35 million dollars was an overpay for a once great pitcher who is past his prime. Overall though, it’s hard to deny the success they’ve had.
But 2014 is over….so…how does the farm system look today? Is it good enough to continue to feed the Giants for the next 10 years? Well…actually…it’s one of the weaker systems in all of baseball. There is clearly talent in the organization, but I don’t see anyone who has all-star upside, or even, first division upside.
Kyle Crick has the highest upside in the system, but with 30-grade control, it’s looking more likely he’s headed to the bullpen. The number one prospect for me is Tyler Beede. While he also struggles with his control and doesn’t have the stuff of Crick, his mechanics are better and therefore, I think he stays a starter. Andrew Susac is the top positional prospect and has always been undervalued in my opinion.
The Giants are always looking for power and the best chance at achieving that is with Mac Williamson and Adam Duvall. Williamson missed the entire 2014 season with Tommy John Surgery, but has 25 home run potential. Duvall has massive raw power but is best suited for first base where he is currently blocked.
While the system might be down, you just can’t count out the Giants. Nobody stays on top forever, but until they have a few down years, you have to continue to be bullish.
|2015 Age: 22||Ceiling: #3 starter|
|Ht: 6-4 Weight: 200||Bats: Right Throws: Right||ETA: 2016-17|
In 2014, the Giants not only won the World Series but they got cocky in the draft. Why draft a Buster Posey, Tim Lincecum, or Madison Bumgarner in the first round when you can draft a rapper. That’s exactly what the Giants did when they drafted Young Beedah with the number 13 pick. Young Beedah just so happens to be able to throw a pretty good fastball that sits 91-94MPH with good secondary pitches. When not performing on the stage, Mr. Beedah goes by the baseball stage-name of Tyler Beede.
I never got rap and still don’t. I remember sitting on the activity bus in high school going home from track practice listening to the bus driver’s music. It was awful. When I asked him what kind of music it was, he said…”Rap”. I thought it was awful back in 1978 and still don’t like it. I’m biased though; I play the guitar and have played all my life. If you can’t create a groove with an instrument, it’s not music. I know…it’s old school, but that’s me. Having said that, I kind of liked what Tyler Beede was doing. It was fun and it shows a ton of personality. The act should play well with the Giants band of personalities and should fit well alongside the giraffe’s, freak’s, and Pence’s in the clubhouse (Does he have a moniker?).
But what about Beede as a pitcher? The industry has been waiting for him to take his extreme talent to the next level. The Blue Jays bet on the talent three years ago when they made Bedde the number 21 overall pick, but he decided to go to Vanderbilt to hone his craft in hopes of increasing his draft value. While he earned about $200,000 more in a signing bonus, he just has not made the strides the industry thought he would.
The arsenal is solid with a fastball that sits 91-94MPH and can touch higher when he needs something extra. He also can spin a curve that has a chance to be a plus offering as well. The change-up; his clear third pitch should profile above average as he continues to develop a feel for it. The problem is he has 40-grade control. In 286 of innings in college, he walked 148 batters. That ratio continued in his first 15.1 innings of professional ball.
In many ways, Beede has a similar profile as Kyle Crick. While I think Crick is a reliever, I do believe Beede has a better chance to stay a starter as his delivery is better. The Giants have proven to be a master at developing pitchers and while there is work to be done with Beede, there’s enough there to get excited about a mid-rotation starter.
Fantasy Impact: While I love the arsenal and the organization, I see Beede as a third round pick in a Dynasty re-draft league. There’s too much risk to pick him higher. If it all comes together though, it could be very good with a strikeout an inning and much better than league ratios.
|2015 Age: 25||Ceiling: 1st Div
|Ht: 6-1 Weight: 215||Bats: Right Throws: Right||ETA: 2014|
Andrew Susac started the season as the starting catcher for the Fresno Grizzlies and finished the year jumping up and down on the infield in Kaufman Stadium. It was a quite a year for the 24-year-old catcher and one that many people thought would never materialize.
Since covering prospects, I’m not sure there’s been a player that I’ve gotten more conflicting reports on than Susac. I heard from some that he was a poor catcher and destined for first base while others told me he had a chance to be an above-average backstop. I heard below average future power to plus future power and finally, somebody told me he would never hit enough to make it out of Double-A.
Now that Susac is nearly a finished product, he has developed into a solid backstop that has the Giants thinking about reducing Buster Posey’s time substantially behind the plate. Secondly, his hit-tool has really developed with an excellent approach at the plate and plenty of patience and plate coverage. While he’ll never be a .300 hitter, he should be able to post a .260 to .270 batting average with a .340 on-base percentage. Finally, the power now profiles as at least average if not above-average with the chance to hit 15 to 18 home runs annually. The floor looks like a solid full-time major leaguer with a chance to be a first division starter (one of the top 15 catchers in the game).
Fantasy Impact: If the Giants decide to play Posey more at first, or even third base, Susac could see 350 at-bats in 2015. While he’ll likely have his share of ups-and-downs, I expect him to perform well with a chance to hit .260 with 10 to 12 home runs. If I’m in a two-catcher fantasy league, I might gamble and wait on my second catcher and take Susac late. I think there will be enough at-bats to help your fantasy team in 2015.
|2015 Age: 22||Ceiling: Closer|
|Ht: 6-2 Weight: 220||Bats: Left Throws: Right||ETA: 2015|
Many of you will be surprised to see Kyle Crick sitting in the number three hole. While Kyle Crick has one of the more electric arms in the entire minor leagues, he flat out can’t throw strikes. To make matters worse, the control has gone backwards as he has moved through the system. In 2014, he was limited to 90.1 innings, partially because he missed a couple starts at the end of the season, but it was mostly because his outings were cut short due to his 61 walks.
I had a chance to catch his May 3rd start in Trenton. He walked the first two batters on 10 pitches before striking out the side. In between he gave up a single and a double which plated two runs. The fastball sat 91-94MPH with two 96’s and a 97; plus a really good slider. He mixed in a couple of mid 70’s curve balls that were just ok and an upper 80’s change-up that showed promise. However, he could not throw any of them for consistent strikes.
If the control improves, followed by his command, the stuff has a chance to make Crick a special pitcher. However, after seeing him first in the Arizona Fall League in 2013 and then in Double-A, the lack of control is convincing me that his ultimate role will be in the bullpen. If that happens, he could be a lock down closer as his electric fastball could consistently touch the upper nineties, which will only make his slider that much more effective.
Fantasy Impact: I would be drafting Crick as a potential closer. In fact, the Giants can not put him on the mound as a starter until his control improves. From a fantasy standpoint that would be a disaster, but maybe not… If that happens, he’ll fail and owners will bail on him. That will be your chance to swoop in a pick him up and wait for him to be moved to the pen. In that role, it could special.
|2015 Age: 21||Ceiling: #3 starter|
|Ht: 6-2 Weight: 200||Bats: Right Throws: Right||ETA: 2017|
One of the better kept secrets in the Giants organization is 21-year-old Dominican Keury Mella. At 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, Mella has the size and stuff to profile as a solid mid-rotation starter.
Mella has a solid arsenal with potentially two plus pitches. His fastball sits 93-95 MPH with plenty of 6’s and 7’s. It has a ton of heavy life and movement that batters struggle to square up. His 3.13 ground-ball-to-fly ball ratio in 88 innings illustrates the point well. Furthermore, he only gave up one home run in those same 88 innings.
The delivery has a cross-fire element that helps to hide the ball well to both arm and glove side hitters. The release is just short of a traditional three-quarters release point. While the delivery works to make his stuff play-up, it also is putting a lot of stress on his arm. It might have been a contributing factor in him missing a month with a rotator cuff strain in the second half.
Despite loosing innings, I expect Mella to start the 2015 season in High-A with an excellent chance to see Richmond sometimes during the second half. There’s a lot to like with Mella, providing he can stay healthy.
Fantasy Impact: Keury Mella is not owned in many Dynasty Leagues and presents a nice buying opportunity for fantasy owners. The ceiling is a number three/four fantasy starter with the ability to strikeout seven batters per nine with a superior ERA but a slightly inflated WHIP.
|2015 Age: 22||Ceiling: #4 starter|
|Ht: 6-3 Weight: 195||Bats: Left Throws: Left||ETA: 2015-16|
Adalberto Mejia 2015 season will start later than the Giants expected as he was suspended for 50 games after testing positive for a stimulant late in the season. Losing nearly half a season is never a good thing but in Mejia case, it just adds to his struggle to stay on the field. In his four years of professional ball, he’s never pitched over 108 innings; which occurred in 2014.
At 6-foot-3 and a listed 195 pounds (he looks bigger), Mejia passes the eye test for what pitchers are supposed to look like. He has a very good arsenal with a fastball that sits 90-92 MPH with a lot of movement and secondary pitches that grade out as average to slightly more. In fact, I really like his slider, which has a sharp two-plane break.
Statistically, Mejia had what can best be described an inconsistent year. In April, May, and June, he posted a 5.50 ERA while giving up eight home runs in 72 innings. However he also struck out 62 while walking only 18 but was giving up way too many hits. While July and August looked better with a 3.00 ERA in 36 innings, he only struck out 20 while walking 13. In fact, while the stats looked good, he did not pitch nearly as well as he did in the first half.
While he looks the part, I think Mejia has a ceiling of a number four starter. Pitching half his games in AT&T Park on the bay will likely enhance that projection, but his inconsistent ability to throw strikes and his propensity to pitch up in the zone will ultimately limit his upside.
Fantasy Impact: You always want to roster Giants pitchers. It’s not only the park, but they just develop pitchers well. While Mejia should be rostered in all Dynasty Leagues with 250 minor league slots, he only projects as a number five pitcher on your fantasy team.
|2015 Age: 24||Ceiling: Solid-Reg
|Ht: 6-5 Weight: 240||Bats: Right Throws: Right||ETA: 2016|
It was a little surprising the Giants started Mac Williamson back in San Jose after he posted an .879 OPS in 136 games in 2013. However, the Giants wanted to see if the strides he had made at the plate in the second half were indeed for real. Over the first 23 games, Williamson performed extremely well; posting a slash line of .318/.420/.506. More importantly, he struck out only 14 times while walking an impressive 13 times.
The Giants were considering moving him up to Richmond when he felt elbow pain after an April 26th game and was later diagnosed with a tear in his ulnar collateral ligament. He later had Tommy John reconstructive surgery and was lost for the season. It was a shame on many levels, not the least of which is that Williamson will be 24-years-old in mid-July and will likely start the year back in High-A. Hopefully, he can hit the ground running and see Richmond before the season is over.
At 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds, Williamson is an imposing figure on the diamond. He has plus raw power that is generated from not only raw strength and leverage, but also very good bat speed. However, given his length, there will be swing and miss in his game. That will be compensated from a very good understanding of the strike zone and his ability to take a walk. Williamson has average foot speed but is still good for 8 to 12 stolen bases annually.
Defensively, Williamson has a cannon for an arm and assuming he comes back healthy from TJS, profiles as a well above-average right-fielder.
Fantasy Impact: If it were not for missing most of the 2014 season, Williamson would likely be higher on prospect lists. The ceiling is 20 to 25 home runs with a .260 batting average and a .340 on-base percentage with 10 to 12 stolen bases. That’s not a star, but a solid fourth or fifth outfielder on a fantasy team.
|2015 Age: 26||Ceiling: All-star
|Ht: 6-1 Weight: 205||Bats: Right Throws: Right||ETA: 2014|
Adam Duvall is one of those prospects that consistently flies under-the-radar. I get it, he’s 26-years-old, is only an average defender at third, and is probably a better fit at first. However, he’s got big right-handed power and an approach that should allow him to develop an average hit-tool at the highest level.
Duvall proved in 2014 that there is little left for him to learn in the minors. In 359 at-bats in Fresno, he slugged .599 with 27 home runs with an 82K/30BB strikeout-to-walk ratio. Granted it was the PCL and therefore the power is likely inflated, but he’s shown similar power and on-base skills at every level. In 1,897 at-bats in the minor leagues, he’s hit 100 home runs with a .345 on-base percentage.
The big question is where will Duvall plays if he made the roster out of spring training. As of this writing, the only depth at third base is 32-year-old Casey McGehee. While I might take my chances with Duvall over McGehee, the Giants appear unwilling to make that move. If not third, the equation gets more dicey. Brandon Belt looks like he’s poised to explode in 2015 and the Giants want to get Buster Posey out from behind the plate. So, if it’s not Belt at first, it could be Posey. Plus, there’s talk of Posey playing a little third. The point is that Duvall might struggle to find consistent playing time in the major leagues unless there is an injury or a trade.
Fantasy Impact: Power is at a premium and therefore Duvall should be on the watch list of all fantasy owners. He’s probably only ownable in leagues that roster at least 300 minor league players and even at that, his age and lack of playing opportunity could relegate him to an extra bat. However, if he’s given the chance, I think 20 to 25 home runs is possible with a .250 to .260 batting average and a .320 to .330 on-base percentage.
|2015 Age: 24||Ceiling: #5 starter|
|Ht: 6-1 Weight: 210||Bats: Right Throws: Left||ETA: 2015-16|
Ty Blach was able to build on his impressive 2013 season when he tamed the California League with a 2.90 ERA and a 117/18BB strikeout-to-walk ratio in 130.1 innings. Instead the 6-foot-1 lefty turned more into a command and control lefty who maintained an impressive 3.13 ERA but saw his strikeout rate drop to 5.81 per nine.
I had a chance to see Blach pitch twice in the Eastern League and the stuff was a little better than I had anticipated. The fastball sat 89-91 MPH with two readings of 93 MPH. He’s able to command the pitch to both sides of the plate and setup hitters for his change-up and slider. I liked the change-up better. It had very good shape and deception and was thrown at the same release point as his other pitches. The slider didn’t show a lot of action and was actually pretty straight on many occasions. However, he was able to throw it for strikes, as he was with all of his pitches.
Blach’s pitching mechanics are solid. He does have a cross-fire delivery that adds deception to his arsenal. He doesn’t pitch very tall but that doesn’t seem to be affecting his ability to get plane and keep the ball down in the zone.
Blach should start the year in Triple-A with a chance to be one of the first callups to the majors during 2015. He’s a solid back-of-the-rotation starter but with his advanced pitchability and command combined with the AT&T Park, he could be more than that.
Fantasy Impact: Blach is more than just a back-of-the-rotation command and control pitcher. However, his lack of strikeouts will make it hard to own Blach in more than a very deep mixed league or NL Only team. That said, he could surprise and you always need to factor in the effects of pitching in AT&T Park.
|2015 Age: 24||Ceiling: 2nd Div
|Ht: 6-3 Weight: 195||Bats: Right Throws: Right||ETA: 2015|
While teams are spending big bucks on Cuban players such as Yasiel Puig, Rusney Castillo, and Jose Abreu, the Giants decided to jump into the Cuban sweepstakes in a much smaller way. In June, they signed 23-year-old outfielder Daniel Carbonell to a million dollar signing bonus that included a major league contract. This is important as it puts Carbonell on the 40-man roster.
I had a chance to see Carbonell in the Arizona Fall League and he looks like a ball player. He’s long and lean at 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds (maybe slightly heavier) with plus foot speed and better than advertised bat speed. His timing was clearly off as he struggled to square up pitches with his swing getting long in the process. That said, he caught a 91 MPH fastball from Gerardo Concepcion in the third inning of a game and hit it about 430 feet for a home run. That home run was one of the highlights of an otherwise very ordinary six weeks in the desert.
It’s hard to say at this juncture what the ceiling and realistic role will be for Carbonell. His speed will definitely play and therefore the floor is likely a fourth outfielder with the ability to steal 20 plus stolen bases. The ceiling is likely not much more than that unless his hit tool takes a big step up.
Fantasy Impact: There are a number of second-tier Cuban émigré’s available to draft on your fantasy teams. I’m not sure Carbonell should be one of them. There is speed and that always plays on a fantasy team. Plus, by being on the 40-man roster, his path to the majors will be more open than others. That said, I’m not sure he’ll get enough playing time to be more than a bench player on your fantasy team.
|2015 Age: 23||Ceiling: Closer|
|Ht: 6-3 Weight: 210||Bats: Left Throws: Left||ETA: 2015|
I generally avoid putting relief pitchers in my top 10 lists, but I’m making an exception with Steve Okert. Since being selected in the sixth round of the 2012 first year player draft, Okert has saved 26 games in the minor leagues with an impressive 10.22 strikeout-per-nine rate and a reasonable 3.31 walk rate. In fact, his control has improved significantly since he was first signed and it’s reasonable to project that he’ll have above-average control going forward.
Okert can run his fastball into the upper nineties but usually sits 92-96 MPH with a ton of movement. He complements his fastball with a slider that continues to improve and I think we can safely put a plus grade on the offering.
I had a chance to see Okert in the Arizona Fall League and he was impressive. He hit 98 MPH and with his funky delivery, batters struggled to pick up his release point. He retried all three batters, two on strikeouts.
Fantasy Impact: I’m constantly asked about future closers. Well, here you go. Despite being a lefty, Okert has the stuff and the improving control to be a closer in the major leaguers. While he’ll likely see San Francisco in 2015, he could be a few years away from seeing closing opportunities.
2015 Emerging Prospect:
In the second round of the 2014 draft, the Giants drafted college catcher Aramis Garcia. Known more for his bat than his glove, Garcia posted a .903 OPS in his three year college career while adding 25 home runs. While he did not post hall of fame worthy stats in his first 28 professional games, he has enough pop and bat speed to profile with at least average power. Plus, his mature approach should allow him to hit enough to get to his power.