Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Your 2013 Giants: The Best Minor League Rotation: San Jose

I was inspired by Shankbone's post on the rotation.  Plus, there were great quotes on some of them in a recent Sabean interview (Pavlovic).

Mostly, BA, in their round up on each of the minor leagues for 2013, had all five members of the San Jose rotation in their Top 20 ranking of prospects in the California League (here, scroll down to Cal League).   Here were their ranking:

  • #3:  Crick
  • #6:  Escobar
  • #10:  Mejia
  • #15:  Blach
  • #20:  Blackburn

No other team had their entire rotation in their league's Top 20 ranking, though the Blue Jays came close in the rookie Appalachian League with four pitchers, but their top guy was 6th and I'm not sure if any were relievers.  Diamondbacks had three pitchers in the Northwest League.  Padres had three in the Midwest League.  Marlins had three in Florida State League.  Padres had three in Texas League.

Other Giants making a league's Top 20 list include:

  • #2:  Arroyo (Arizona Rookie League)
  • #14:  Mella (Arizona Rookie League)
  • #18:  Jones (Arizona Rookie League)
  • #8:  Chase Johnson (Northwest League)

On top of that, these guys dominated the BA Giants Top 10 ranking as well:

  • #1:  Crick
  • #2:  Escobar
  • #4:  Mejia
  • #8:  Blach
  • #10:  Blackburn

Crick was rated with both the best fastball and best curveball, showing how advanced he is.  Clayton Blackburn had the best Changeup.  Ty Blach had the best control.  (and I would note that Derek Law had the best slider; plus FYI, Brown was considered the best athlete, Adrianza the best defensive infielder).

Here is the Giants entire Top 10 prospect list for 2014:




  • #1:  Kyle Crick (best fastball and curve)
  • #2:  Edwin Escobar
  • #3:  Chris Stratton
  • #4:  Adalberto Mejia
  • #5:  Mac Williamson
  • #6:  Christian Arroyo (best hitter for average)
  • #7:  Heath Hembree
  • #8:  Ty Blach (best control)
  • #9:  Joe Panik (best strike-zone discipline)
  • #10:  Clayton Blackburn (best changeup)
Stratton was surprisingly high on the list at #3.  Apparently his scouted talents are still highly ranked and his struggles there were written down due to his recovery from his concussion in 2012 and his learning curve related to the work the Giants were doing with him with his mechanics.  Given Panik's struggles, I was surprised to see him still above Blackburn, who I highly rate, but perhaps that is because the scout's view of Blackburn is not very positive, many think of him as a back of rotation starter, whereas I think he's at least a middle rotation guy, if not higher.

Here are the Sabean quotes from Pavlovic:
Edwin Escobar (Sabean said he’s likely headed for Triple-A): “Escobar has been asked about quite a bit, which is good. He’s right on schedule to take the next step and have a baseline of innings for being called up, or if he’s not called up he’ll have 185-plus innings at the end of next year. He’s a strike-thrower. He’s very aggressive in the zone.”
Kyle Crick: “Crick kind of had a chopped up season. Whether it’s him or any prospect or almost any pitcher in that (fall) league, sometimes the stat line doesn’t tell you the best story. He had real good, inconsistent stuff. The power to his stuff was impressive.”
Adalberto Mejia: “It’s just about overall maturation. He’s a big-bodied guy who is still learning his delivery, balance in his delivery.”
Plus a couple more on other prospects, since Sabes noted it:  
Derek Law: “Obviously was dominant and didn’t give up a run (in the AFL) and it really turned our heads because it by and large is a hitters’ league … I’m really interested to see what he does against Major League hitters in spring training. He’s got a breaking ball, being that hard overhand curveball that you don’t see. The action is almost like a splitter.”
Andrew Susac: “I think we all agree that he’s got a chance to be a frontline catcher. He had a real good fall league. He’s got to clean up some things, concentration behind the plate from pitch to pitch. He needs to work on his shifting and his blocking but that’s true for any catcher as they go through the minor leagues.”

ogc thoughts

So my title lied, not just about the best minor league rotation, but other minor league info as well.

Wow, I never looked before for this, only a team's fan would notice, but that has to be a pretty rare thing to happen, to have 5 of your top prospect pitchers to not only be in the same league, but also rank among the best in the league that same season.  Blackburn just made it in at 20th, and I think that he's really talented and was hurt by his poor showing in Stockton (3 horrific starts there; his numbers otherwise were in line with his 2012 stats in Augusta adjusted for a hitter's league).

Crick was in BA's Top 100 last season, if I recall right, so I expect him to stay in it for 2014.  I wonder if Escobar will get into the ranking as well.  I don't think any other prospect will make it on for 2014.

Nice comments from Sabean on a number of prospects.  He expounds a little more about why the Giants like Escobar, though not a lot.  Same for Crick and Mejia.  Funny that Law was rated with the best slider by BA, and yet Sabean points out his "hard overhand curveball that you don't see.  The action is almost like a splitter."  Biggest bit of info was his thoughts on Susac:  "I think we all agree that he's got a chance to be a frontline catcher."  

Plus the Pavlovic blog also noted this on Hanchez:  "People look at him as a potential frontline catcher."  

As much as the Giants made a point that Posey is their catcher, I have to hope that once Susac or Hanchez show enough to be a frontline catcher, the Giants move Posey to another position (hopefully 3B, pushing Sandoval to 1B and Belt to LF), with the duo being co-starters.  It makes no sense to keep Posey there long term once there proves to be a viable starting catcher, the wear and tear on his body is tremendous, and the nicks and pains of the catching position can only hurt his ability to stay consistent offensively, where his value is most prominent, particularly since he's been mostly just average defensively as a catcher since coming back from his ankle injury.

I understand needing to make that message known today, in support of arguably their biggest star player, but in the best interests of the long-term success of the team, he needs to move off the position within the next 3 seasons, before his 30 YO season (he's 27, 28, 29 next three).   That fits time wise with Susac and Hanchez, they probably won't be ready until 2015 at the earliest, but if continue to develop, should be ready by 2016.   With the hints that Sandoval might be extended, that move would cause a three player shuffle, but Posey can't hit like he can and earn the money on the back end of the deal if he's crippled playing catcher.

Good Timing:  Need to Replace Pitching

Something I discussed, I think, on Shankbone's, is the Giants need to replace pitchers in the pitching staff over the next 2-3 years.   Here are the guys 30 and over right now:

  • Lincecum (30 YO season in 2014)
  • Cain (30 YO in 2015)
  • Vogelsong (36 YO)
  • Hudson (38 YO)
  • Romo (31 YO)
  • Affeldt (35 YO)
  • Kontos (30 YO in 2015)
  • Casilla (33 YO)
  • Lopez (36 YO)
  • Machi (32 YO)
  • Petit (30 YO in 2015)

That's 11 pitchers who could be in the pitching staff in 2014 season, out of 12 on the 25-man roster, with Bumgarner the only youngster among the bunch.

Luckily, they should not all break down and leave the team at the same time, some can and will last into their late 30's.  But even if just half of them need replacement, that is 5-6 pitchers needed at the major league level.  So while we should count our lucky stars that we have so many young pitching prospects rising up quickly, I must remind all of us of the Big 3 we were counting at about 10 years ago, in Foppert, Ainsworth, Williams.  Then there was Lowry as well.  So we might need each and every one of them to refill our pitching staff over the next few years, leaving no surplus to trade off.  Just keep that in mind when dreaming of trades.



2 comments:

  1. Thanks for this article.

    Which players from SJ or lower do you think will start in Richmond?



    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad you liked it.

      I covered that topic here: http://obsessivegiantscompulsive.blogspot.com/2013/11/2014-40-man-roster-changes-to-avoid.html

      Near the end, I gave my best guesses at where they all end up:

      * Mike Kickham, Eric Surkamp, Chris Heston, Edwin Escobar plus one (probably someone signed to minor league deal) in AAA;

      * Kyle Crick, Clayton Blackburn, Ty Blach, Adalberto Mejia, Kendry Flores in AA;

      * Chris Stratton, Martin Agosta, Joan Gregorio, Chris Johnson, Joe Kurrasch in Advanced A; and

      * Nick Vander Tuig, Chase Johnson, Luis Ysla, Carlos Diaz, Andrew Leenhouts, Keury Mella in A-ball in Augusta.

      So to your point, I think Kyle Crick, Clayton Blackburn, Ty Blach, and Adalberto Mejia will get promoted from SJ to Richmond, and Kendry Flores will get jumped to AA, he did really well plus he's put in a lot of innings, unlike the other starters in Augusta.

      Now, I've seen some people promote Stratton from Augusta instead. He also put in a lot of innings, but didn't do as well as Flores, and he's older to boot. So I don't really see that because he clearly was working on some stuff in Augusta (plus I heard rumblings that his concussion in 2012 might have held him back a little) and I would think the Giants would just let him get his bearings in SJ first before considering promoting him to AA.

      But the Giants have surprised me before, so hence take my guesses with a large lump of salt. And BA still has Stratton #3 on the prospect list, despite his relatively poor showing in Augusta, while Flores is not even in the Top 10, so scouts and other baseball people still think the talent that got him picked 20th is still there, somewhere, and that 2013 was just a rough year.

      Still, I think the majority of these assignments will work out this way, most are pretty obvious, I think.

      Delete

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