San Francisco Giants

Original Published Date: December 29, 2015

It’s an odd year so that means the Giants did not win the World Series.  While they played well, injuries and a lack of pitching depth eventually did them in.  Unfortunately, they were not able to tap into their minor league system, mostly due to the lack of quality at the top.  Kyle Crick just has not developed and has been relegated to the bullpen.  Mac Williamson, who I believe is an everyday player, missed most of 2014 with Tommy John Surgery and only got a handful of at-bats in September.

Leading the Giants prospect list is right-handed pitcher Phil Bickford.  While he’s atop the list, his ceiling is only a number three starter.  In fact, the Giants will be one of the few organizations that will not have any players in our Top 100 list.

The player with the most upside in the system has not even played a game of professional ball.  Lucius Fox was signed out of the Bahamas for a record breaking six million dollars and has the kind of athleticism that the Giants typically don’t have in their system.  While he’s a long way off, he has a chance to be an impact player at the highest level.

While their system lacks high upside talent, there are several players who could one day help the big league team.  However, besides Fox, nobody has the kind of impact talent that Giants fans can look to in the near future to make a difference.  That said, next year is an even year and you know what that means…

1. Phil Bickford (RHP)

2016 Age: 20 Ceiling: #3 starter
Ht: 6-4 Weight: 200 Bats: Right Throws: Right ETA: 2017-18
Year Class IP H ER HR BB/9 K/9 ERA WHIP
2015 R 22.1 13 5 0 2.42 12.90 2.01 0.85

Phil Bickford was taken as the tenth overall player in the 2013 draft by the Blue Jays but did not sign.  It was a gamble that did not payoff for the right-handed pitcher as he re-entered the draft in 2015 and was taken by the Giants as the number 18 overall player.  While he lost at least a million dollars in the process, he does wind up in a better situation as the Giants have a history of developing pitchers and in the end, he might be better off.  That said, conventional wisdom says that he will never make that million dollars back.

Bickford split time between the starting rotation and the bullpen in his two-year college career.  The Giants drafted him as a starter and in his brief professional career, he dominated.  In ten  starts in the AZL, where he averaged only two innings per start, he posted a 2.01 ERA with 32 strikeouts and only six walks.

The Giants will likely start him in the Midwest League to begin the 2016 season and assuming he performs well, he should see High-A by the end of the year.  If it all comes together, the ceiling is a solid number three starter.

Scouting Report:  Despite Bickford’s quality stuff, his reputation is that he can not hold his velocity deep into games.  This is the reason he was so effective in the bullpen.  His fastball sits 92 to 94 MPH with a quality slider but  an inconsistent change-up.  In reports I received on him, I had one source put a future 60 on the change-up and another say he had no current feel for it.   That same source also expressed concerns about his makeup.

Fantasy Impact:  There is a lot of upside with Bickford but with a ton of red flags.  Why did he turn down a Top 10 pay day from the Blue Jays?  Is he a reliever or starter?  Are there makeup concerns?  It’s because of these questions, that I’m tapping the brakes on him.  If he falls to me in the third round of a Dynasty League re-draft, I’m probably jumping-in, until then, it’s a pass.

2. Lucius Fox (SS)

2016 Age: 18 Ceiling: Solid Reg
Ht: 6-1 Weight: 175 Bats: Both Throws: Right ETA: 2018-19
2015 DNP

After receiving a six million dollar signing bonus on July 2nd, Lucius Fox now has the honor as the top paid non-Cuban International signee.   He accomplished the feat by moving back to the Bahamas, his home country after spending three years in the US.  By doing so, he was able to avoid the salary caps on the domestic draft and extend his value on the International side.  It worked and Fox and his advisors should be congratulated.

Scouting Report:  Fox has yet to play a professional game in the US, but from all accounts, he has potential impact talent.  He has 80-grade speed with enough strength and bat speed to be able to consistently get on base so that his speed will play.  He’s a switch hitter, showing the ability to drive the ball better from the right-side.

Defensively, he should be able to stay at short with a fallback position of center field.  Reading this profile, many will equate him to Billy Hamilton but I think he has a better hit tool and more strength.  I would comp him more to a Roman Quinn type of player but I’ll know better once I see him play or at least we get some video on him.

Fantasy Impact:  Fox is at least four years away from the major leagues.  However, if you’re looking for a lottery pick in a deeper Dynasty League, he’s worth a gamble.  The upside is significant.  His bat is advanced for his age and that should be enough to allow his 80-grade speed to play.  If you throw-in 5 to 10 home runs annually, that could be an impact fantasy player.

3. Mac Williamson (OF)

2016 Age: 25 Ceiling: Solid Reg
Ht: 6-5 Weight: 240 Bats: Right Throws: Right ETA: 2015
2015 AA,AAA 448 76 13 73 4 .275 .368 75.9 9.9 .334

Mac Williamson had a nice bounce back season after having Tommy John Reconstructive Surgery in May of 2014.  He quickly passed through Double and Triple-A and made his major league debut in September.  In 517 plate appearance in the minors, Williamson hit 13 home runs with a 2-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.  While his 13 home runs look pedestrian, his .158 ISO suggest there is more power in the bat.

The Giants will likely put Williamson on their 25-man roster coming out of Spring Training but with a crowded outfield, he’s likely the odd-man out unless a trade is made.  That trade could also involve Williamson.

Scouting Report:  At 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds, Williamson is an imposing figure on the field.  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 a handful of 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:  2016 is an important year for Dynasty League owners of Williamson.  If he gets playing time, he should wind up on most fantasy rosters, both Dynasty and Redraft League.  If not, he’s on the waiver wire and waiting for a trade for playing time.  The good news is that the Giants are not afraid to move players and it’s for that reason, I’m hanging onto him for one more season.

4. Christian Arroyo (SS)

2016 Age: 21 Ceiling: 2nd Div
Ht: 6-1 Weight: 180 Bats: Right Throws: Right ETA: 2017
2015 A+ 381 48 9 42 5 .304 .344 80.8 4.6 .355

Drafted in the first round of the 2013 first year player draft, Christian Arroyo has been making slow and steady progress through the minor leagues.  He played the entire 2015 campaign in San Jose where he hit .304/.344/.459 with nine home runs and five stolen bases.  His season was interrupted in mid-April after an oblique injury sidelined him for six weeks.

To make up for lost time, he played in the Arizona Fall League and continued to show his ability to make solid contact (84%).  While I see a potential second baseman or utility player as his ceiling, he’s a tough out with a Matt Duffy type of approach – aggressive at the plate, but a guy who just makes pitchers work.

Scouting Report:  Arroyo doesn’t have the level of tools that will make him a star.  He has average future power potential, below-average speed and lacks the athleticism to be a quality defender at short.  That said, he can hit and that’s what will get him to the big leagues.  He swing is more geared to double-power but he’s strong enough to put a charge into the ball and should be able to hit low double-digit home runs in the future.

While he’s primarily played shortstop, I don’t think he stays there long-term.  Not only is Brandon Crawford locked in for the next four years, Arroyo doesn’t have the quick twitch athleticism to play the position. While you can argue that Brandon Crawford doesn’t either, Crawford has great footwork and a cannon of an arm.  Arroyo has neither.

Fantasy Impact:  Arroyo will be a better baseball player than fantasy asset.  While he can hit, there will be limited power and stolen base contribution.  Plus, I’m not convinced he’s a full-time positional player as I think the ceiling is likely a utility player.   That said, the Giants do get a lot out of their players (see the aforementioned Crawford and Duffy), so I wouldn’t rule anything out.

5. Tyler Beede (RHP)

2016 Age: 23 Ceiling: #3 starter
Ht: 6-4 Weight: 200 Bats: Right Throws: Right ETA: 2017
Year Class IP H ER HR BB/9 K/9 ERA WHIP
2015 A+/AA 124.2 113 55 6 3.18 6.21 3.97 1.26

After ranking as the number one player on our San Francisco Top 10 list last year, Tyler Beede has dropped and it’s not because the system has gotten better.  While there are many things to like about Beede including his fun personality, great makeup and overall arsenal, I can’t get the performance of the 2015 Futures Game out of my head.

While he pitched a clean inning, Beede also sat 89 to 90 MPH with his fastball, topping out at 91.  I had heard he wasn’t pitching nearly as hard as he was when he was drafted in 2014, the velocity he showed in that one inning was concerning.  More importantly, he also did not pitch effectively in his 13 starts in Double-A.  In 72.1 innings, he posted a 5.23 ERA, striking out 49 while walking 35.

Scouting Report:  At 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds, Beede uses his size very well on the mound to get great plane on his pitches.  Because of that, he’s become an extreme ground ball pitcher and that has helped to neutralize his average fastball.  He does flash a plus curveball and change-up but both play down because of his inability to throw them consistently for strikes.

The control appeared to be improving at the start of last season while Beede was in High-A, but went backward to a 4.35 walk-per-nine rate after his promotion to Double-A.  While sinker ball pitchers will many times struggle early in their career with control, the hope is that Beede will learn to better repeat his delivery and develop at least average control.  If he does, the ceiling remains a mid-rotation starter, if not the ceiling drops to a number four or five starter.

Fantasy Impact:  I’m clearly down on Beede and would be a seller if I owned him in a Dynasty League. He’s still a top 300 prospect in the game and if he improves his control and can add a tick back to his fastball, I will adjust accordingly.

6. Chris Shaw (1B)

2016 Age: 22 Ceiling: 2nd Div
Ht: 6-3 Weight: 230 Bats: Left Throws: Right ETA: 2017-18
2015 SS 178 22 12 30 0 .287 .360 77.0 9.5 .310

The Giants are always looking for power and in the 2015 first year player draft, they tapped Boston College’s power hitting first baseman, Chris Shaw as the 31st overall player selected.  Shaw showed his power in college, slugging .470 in his three career, including 11 bombs in his junior year while upping his slugging to .611.

He continued to show power in his first taste of professional ball hitting .287/.360/.551 with 12 home runs in 46 games in the Northwest League.  Given his college pedigree, the Giants will likely start him in San Jose of the California League to begin the 2016 season.

Scouting Report:  At 6-foot-4 and 255 pounds, Shaw is a big boy.  His power is generated through raw strength as opposed to elite bat speed.  Despite his size, his swing is direct to the ball and strikeouts have never been a major problem.  While his contact rate will not be Altuvian, he could post a mid to low 70’s contact rate which should be enough to let his double-plus power play.

Shaw is a below-average runner and will likely be confined to first base, or designated hitter if moved to the American League.  However, if it all comes together, he could produce 25 home runs with a .260 batting average hitting in the middle of a big league lineup.

Fantasy Impact:  Power is at a premium in the fantasy game and Dynasty League owners need to take note.  While other sites will discount the “Don Voglebachish” profile (although I think he’s a better defender), he’s worth a gamble in fantasy.  He should be owned in all leagues that roster 200 or more minor league players.

7. Ray Black (RHP)

2016 Age: 26 Ceiling: Closer
Ht: 6-5 Weight: 225 Bats: Right Throws: Right ETA: 2016
Year Class IP H ER HR BB/9 K/9 ERA WHIP
2015 A+ 25.0 13 8 2 9.00 18.36 2.88 1.52

My radar gun has also run a half mile an hour slow.  While I should upgrade to the $2,000 gun that all the kids are now using, my trusty Stalker Sports 2 has served me well, and at $600, it’s just a much better value.  That said, it’s always a bummer when a scout gets a 103 on the gun and you’re sitting with 102.  That’s what happened in Arizona this fall with Ray Black.

Ray Black throws really hard, so hard that the catchers mitt echoes through the stadium when it lands; at least in an empty stadium.  He has future closer written all over him but as with Kyle Crick, he can’t throw strikes consistently.  Part of the problem stems from his inability to stay healthy.  He’s had Tommy John Reconstructive surgery, shoulder surgery, and this year, only pitched in 20 games due to other nagging injuries.

Scouting Report:  Ray Black throws the hardest of any pitcher I’ve ever seen live.  He could honestly test the velocity of Aroldis Chapman.  Not only does he have a double-plus fastball, he also has a wicked curve that sent batters flailing.  It’s all led to him striking out more than two batters per nine but also walking 25 in his 25 innings in San Jose.

The lack of control can be partially explained by his lack of pitching time.  Since being drafted in 2011, he’s only pitched 60.1 innings in the minors, before adding another nine in the AFL.  The other issue is his pitching mechanics.  He throws all out and gets totally out of sync with his body.  The recoil in this arm might be unsustainable and could lead to more arm injuries.

Despite his lack of minor league experience, the combination of his age and his propensity to get injured, the Giants might be well served to move him to the majors early in 2016.  The control is terrible but if he can even improve to five walks per nine, the stuff is so nasty, it might just play.

Fantasy Impact:  Black will be a popular add in a Dynasty League redraft this year.  I get it and I’m likely buying in as well.  However, I wouldn’t take him any earlier than the fourth or fifth round as the risk is sky high.  However, the reward could be 90 strikeouts in 50 innings with a chance for saves.

8. Adalberto Mejia (LHP)

2016 Age: 23 Ceiling: #4 starter/Loogy
Ht: 6-3 Weight: 195 Bats: Left Throws: Left ETA: 2016-17
Year Class IP H ER HR BB/9 K/9 ERA WHIP
2015 AA 51.1 38 14 2 3.16 6.66 2.45 1.09

After a down season in 2014, Adalberto Mejia spent the first 50 games of the 2015 season on the suspended list after testing positive for a stimulant used to lose weight.  He pitched well once he returned, only to miss another month after hurting his shoulder in late July.  On his second return, he came out of the bullpen to pitch even better, potentially foretelling his role once he makes it to the big leagues.

Scouting Report:  At 6-foot-3 and a listed 195 pounds (he’s heavier and thus the need to lose weight), Mijia has a solid arsenal that begins with a fastball that sits 90 to 92 MPH with a lot of movement.  He compliments the fastball with a nice sharp slider and a feel for a change-up.  He’s never been a high strikeout pitcher but instead pounds the strike zone, pitching more to contact.

His delivery is a traditional sweeping lefty release.  Because of the delivery, he’s is very difficult on left-handed batters, holding them to .176/.222/.216 slash line.  It’s why the Giants might decide to move Mejia to the bullpen to accelerate his path to the majors.  If that happens, he could see San Francisco in 2016.

Fantasy Impact:  Mejia has the stuff and polish to be a number 3/ 4 pitcher at the highest level.  He will not be a great fantasy pitcher though as he’ll likely strikeout less than seven per nine.  That said, if you are owner, I would hold onto him in leagues that roster 350 or more minor leaguers.

9. Aramis Garcia (C)

2016 Age: 23 Ceiling: 2nd Div
Ht: 6-2 Weight: 220 Bats: Right Throws: Right ETA: 2017-18
2015 A,A+ 394 52 15 66 1 .264 .342 74.9 9.8 .313

The Giants drafted Aramis Garcia in the second round of the 2014 first year player draft and signed him to a $1.1 million dollar contract.  The Giants were hoping to move Garcia quickly through the system, but he played poorly in his first exposure to professional ball last year and the Giants were forced to start him in Low-A to begin the 2105 campaign.  He responded well by hitting .273/.350/.467 with 15 home runs in 83 games.  The performance earned him a promotion to the California League in August.

Scouting Report:  Garcia showed an above-average offensive game at Florida International, posting a .902 OPS with 25 home runs in 157 games in his college career.  As an offensive-first catcher, the ceiling is 20 home runs with good on base skills (.330 OBP).  He does have length in his swing, so contactability could be an issue.

Defensively, he’s an average defender.  He has a strong arm but lack the athleticism and foot work to provide a premium target for his pitching staff.

Fantasy Impact:  Garcia is only ownable in deeper two-catcher Dynasty Leagues that roster 400 or more minor leaguers.

10. Kyle Crick (RHP)

2016 Age: 23 Ceiling: Closer
Ht: 6-4 Weight: 220 Bats: Left Throws: Right ETA: 2016-17
Year Class IP H ER HR BB/9 K/9 ERA WHIP
2015 AA 63.0 47 23 2 9.43 10.43 3.29 1.79

I took a lot of heat last year when I put Kyle Crick’s ceiling as a closer, but after seeing him pitch live a few times, I just didn’t believe the control would be good enough to be a starter.  While the control got even worse after the Giants moved him to the bullpen, the stuff is still electric and I’m still hopeful that the Giants will get him sorted.

The stat line is ugly though.  In 63 innings, he struck out 73 while walking 66.  The 73 strikeout show the kind of stuff he has but the 66 walks clearly show the problem.

Scouting Report:  Crick throws hard with his fastball sitting 91 to 94 MPH with plenty of 6’s and 7’s.  After moving to the pen, his sitting velocity should push up to 93 to 95.  He flashes a plus curve but his change-up is his best secondary pitch.  He has enough velocity to pitch up in the zone and while he’s a fly ball pitcher, the stuff is good enough that he’s able to keep the ball in the ballpark.

The problem is the control.  Will he be able to improve enough to become “effectively wild”?  Yeah, I still believe it will.

Fantasy Impact:  Last year was the time to move Crick in a Dynasty League.  Hopefully you did.  If not, and I know the upside is still a closer, it’s time to move on.

2016 Emerging Prospect

Jalen Miller (SS/2B)

The Giants did well in drafting Jalen Miller in the third round of the 2015 first year player draft.  While he didn’t impress in his first exposure to professional ball, hitting .218/.292/.259 in 44 games, his scouting report is still quite impressive.  He’s very athletic but doesn’t have the arm strength to stay at short and will likely get moved to second base.  His carrying tool is double-plus speed that should allow him to steal 30-plus bases annually.  He’s also stronger than his frame would suggest with some observers seeing low double-digit home run potential.  Even if we scale the power back, the stolen base potential, coupled with his ability to get on base could make him an everyday player at the highest level.



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