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Thursday, February 9, 2017
2017 Top Prospects Primer
Welcome to the 2017 top prospects primer!
I'll write anything and everything about the top prospects for the upcoming
2017 season from my top prospects list to the possible breakout stars this
year. I'll write thoughts about the guys on every list and I'll be as fair as I
can and do as much justice in regards to ranking the prospects.
The 2016 season has been very good for the
Giants farm system. The season started with the complete domination of Phil
Bickford of the Sally League as well as the early struggles of Tyler Beede. The
rest of the 2015 draft class showed its potential with the breakout
performances of Steven Duggar and C.J. Hinojosa.Prized IFA Lucius Fox also showed his tools
but struggled with the bat throughout the season. Miguel Gomez also broke out
as he has proven that pitchers are no match to his bat.
As the season reaches the midway point, many of
the best players in San Jose got promoted to Richmond and guys like Bickford
and Dylan Davis got promoted to San Jose. Bickford continued to dominate while
Davis broke out and started mashing baseballs. Several other prospects
continued to play well. The 2016 draft class also infused 2 polished OFs in
Reynolds and Quinn and they hit very well in every stop that they went. The
trade deadline also saw Bickford, Fox, Andrew Susac, Michael Santos depart from
the farm system to improve the Major League roster.
As the season draws to a close, Austin Slater
made PCL his own launchpad and hit homers almost every game, Beede aged like a
fine wine this season where he improved as his season that culminated to an EL
ERA title, and saw Ty Blach pitched very well at September and October for the
Farm’s Top 30 Prospect List
This is where you will find the finest prospects
of the San Francisco Giants organization. If you are a follower of my blog, you
might know that I don’t like ranking prospects. Instead, I separate when to
tiers where I can segregate then easily and I felt that this group of people
have the same value and it’s unfair to rank them. I still included a ranking
from 30-1 to the people that like rankings.
The state of the farm system is directly related
to the current roster of the San Francisco Giants. The Giants have an obvious
weakness in the outfield as well as an aging starting rotation (except for
Bumgarner) so the Giants loaded up on their pitching depth like they always do
recently as well as in the outfield highlighted by their first two picks in the
2016 draft. All in all, there are only 4 players in the top 20 that are not
pitchers or outfielders. In fact, Aramis Garcia is the only catcher in the top
30 and possibly in the top 50 of some deep rankings but if the starting catcher
in the Major League club is the best in the sport, they can afford to not
develop a lot this time.
The 2015 draft class also performed very well
with 7 draftees inside the top 30 list (it could have been 8 if Bickford didn’t
got traded) plus the 2016 draftees have fared well so far especially the top
picks Bryan Reynolds and Heath Quinn. The Giants have proven to be better at
developing hitters than pitchers but there are more pitchers in the Top 30 than
hitters (17 vs 13) but it felt that there has been more noise coming from the
All in all, John Barr and the scouting crew has
made the farm system a middle of the pack farm in baseball even though the club
won 3 championships in recent years and they have not been aggressive in the
international market unlike their rival Dodgers. The front office have been
drafting a lot of high floor guys up top with some risk due to some untapped
ceiling in recent years and they also value the output in the Cape Cod League
probably more than other organizations and it showed in the Top 30.
The two have been going 1A and 1B on my mind for
the past 2 years now. I gave Tyler the nod for this year because of the steps
forward that he took last season. Statistically, some will argue that Tyler
benefitted vastly at home (1.63 home ERA) and Christian struggled (.224 BA).
What really got me though is the eye test. Beede showed in 2016 what kind of
guy that the Giants really expect from him when they drafted him, a future
workhorse in the middle or top of the rotation. Even though Arroyo still
displayed his masterful bat stroke and fielded many positions then settling at
the hot corner, I give Tyler the slight edge also of the position that the two
plays. Nonetheless, both will be integral to the Giants plans moving forward.
First off, it’s tough for me to leave
Reynolds off Tier 1 but he doesn’t have a standout tool to match the two above
him. He does bring the polish and the untapped potential as an above average
Major Leaguer and don’t be surprised to see him in Richmond next season.
Speaking of untapped potential, Duggar
has been starting to tap to his potential when his bat showed up all year,
playing better in AA than in A+, while playing good to very good defense. Base
stealing is still an issue for him to address to be a true leadoff hitter.
Suarez has struggled since he got
promoted except for a masterful performance in the final day of the season
where it looks like he starts to adjust to the competition in AA. His command
of his pitches is Major League-quality now and helps his good stuff play up.
Shaw also struggled to adjust to better
pitching as well as hitting in a tougher hitting environment, sapping his power
numbers but there’s still promise in the swing that I can see that he’ll hit
for a better average once he adjusts his approach. Good thing that first base
isn’t a defense-first position but he needs to improve his defense there to
stay and play in NL.
Blach is placed higher on their rankings than mine but I have some points to
say. First, in evaluating, I value age and the development curve.He’s going to hit 27 next season, which is
the peak for athlete’s physique, and he’s still considered a prospect. Second,
when he pitched in the Majors last season, Baseball Savant recorded his spin
rate on his pitches and it’s not that good. He got below average spin rate on
his fastball (2107 RPM average in 4SFB, 2145 RPM for 2SFB) and average to below
average on his secondary pitches (2335 RPM for SL, 1982 RPM for CH, 2209 RPM
for CB). His perceived velocity isn’t good either.But he knows how to pitch and he pitch well.
He should carve up a nice career as a Major Leaguer.
I am probably a bit higher on Slater
than other people here. There are massive improvements in Slater’s bat this
season. First, he carried his patience from his Fall League stint in 2015 to
his 2016 season where he doubled his walk rate compared to his 2015 regular
season. His power stroke also improved a lot, producing 18 homers in 2016 and
transforming as a doubles hitter to a true homer threat. His swing will always be
unbelievably long which will make him strike out often but if he continues to
roll in 2017, he can compete with Mac and Parker for the corner OF spot.
Quinn is in
the same mold as Mac Williamson with less speed. I have liked this Giants pick
last year and he should continue to mash baseballs in the hot California
numbers last season makes me question his ability to get hitters to strike out
with his stuff at the next level and if he tried to pitch to contact last
season, he still allowed hitters to hit the ball in the air more than on the
ground. 2017 will be a nice litmus test for him if he’s going to be an asset in
the Major Leagues.
Fabian has pushed to the national spotlight
this season as an advanced hitter with power and impressive arm. The bat speed
of Fabian is relatively average but his feel is impressive. Comparing him to
last season’s top international prospect Lucius Fox, Fabian already got a
better hit tool than Fox as well as better raw power but Fabian doesn’t have
the speed and defensive potential to match. It would be exciting to follow him
You can throw away all of Hinojosa’s
college scouting reports away. He broke out in a big way this season, flashing
his ability to hit, body control to defend short and his intelligence and
baseball instincts. He’s will probably move to the opposite side of the middle
infield but he looks like a Major Leaguer.
14.Chris StrattonRHP MLB
The four can be interchangeable easily
because they are all similar. The four are starters now that will be a bullpen
weapon in the Major Leagues (in case of Okert, he’s been a reliever ever
since). Stratton and Okert already had a taste of the Majors last season and
both have mixed grades in my mind. I can see that the Giants brass will give
Stratton every chance to start and he should compete for the 5th
spot in Spring Training. Gregorio got impressive stuff and the deception and
the mechanics to be a deceptive reliever while Slania has the shortest arm
action I have seen from a Giants prospect, like he’s throwing a football there.
The four project to be relievers in the long run.
Hit by a nasty face injury that made him
miss 2 months of action. He’s been playing well before it, batting .298, 3 2B,
1 HR, 14 RBI, 8 BB, 20Ks in that span.He never recovered that early season magic once he came back from the
injury though. His defense has improved but there’s still some room to grow. If
his offense came back in 2017 like how he started 2016, he’ll be a top 10
prospect in the system.
It’s not Chris Shaw or Austin Slater who
lead the organization in homers in 2016. It’s Dylan Davis with 26 and he also
tallied up 92 RBIs. He has finally learned on how to utilize his power fully in
games by having a better pitch selection. The swing and miss will always be
present but he could hit enough to carve a Major League career.
Having been bounced around and across
three levels, Taylor didn’t disappoint and surprised me by starting and
starting very well even with just two quality pitches highlighted with his plus
plus-quality sinker. A changeup and improved conditioning will make wonders for
him but that sinker alone should catapult him at least to a bullpen spot in San
Francisco. It’s that good.
Gage isn’t the type of prospect that
would get you excited right away but he’s worth following. He’s similar to Ty
Blach: while his stuff won’t blow hitters away, he gets outs on a daily basis
with deception, size and command.
21.Matt KrookLHP A-
While Krook has a high ceiling, there’s
more risk than reward currently for him. His command last season since coming
back from Tommy John had came and went. His fastball velocity is also just in
the high-80s that leaves more to be desired. His curveball has been as good as
advertised but a good curveball needs good fastball command and Krook doesn’t
have that right now. If his command of his fastball improves in 2017, the sky’s
He doesn’t have the mid-90s fastball and
the nasty slider but what Rogers brings is the true submarine style of
pitching. His fastball is at mid-80s but it has nice sink and stays low in the
zone. He will bring a nice change of pace in the high octane bullpen that the
Giants are building.
You might argue that I put Martinez
ahead of Moronta but Martinez has been better than Moronta in High A in terms
of stuff (mid to high-90s fastball). Both pitchers’ command were similar but
the wheels fell off for Martinez once he got promoted in terms of velocity and
command while Moronta has been steady. I can guess that Martinez got a dead arm
right now.If Martinez can regain the
102 MPH fastball that he had in the middle of the season, he’ll stay ahead but
Moronta’s creeping up. And if the two can sustain their success in San Jose in
2017, the two will be a big part of the Giants pen for a long time.
All that Gomez does is just hit. He
improved his conditioning and he actually looked fit physically and he reaped
his reward this season. The problem for him to be this low is his age. His
defense is also a suspect before but he’s a passable 3B at best right now. Lots
of Giants fans can see some Pablo Sandoval traits in him and they may not be
It’s another season of struggle for
Miller in his first full season and that’s nothing to be ashamed of because the
SAL is unforgiving for young players with a developing bat. Miller’s defense
has improved and flashed above average, his bat and his eye is still raw. 2017
is the year that he should put up the stats or he’ll start to slowly fade.
Johnson’s season has been a disaster as
he has showed his true stuff for the first time. He started well (1 start with
more than 3 ER in 7 starts) but when the hot California summer came, his stuff
and mechanics faltered, relying more on his changeup because his fastball
command is bad. He picked it up at the end (2 starts with more than 3 ER in his
final 8 starts). I will still give him the benefit of the doubt entering 2017
but he needs to shrug off the ugly 2016 past him and learn from it.
This season, Jones has finally showed
his raw power into good use, hitting 15 this season in Richmond. While he still
plays 3B once in a while, his defense at first impressed me. In the end, he
still need to impress with his bat in terms of hitting for a good batting
average to be a Major Leaguer.
A year after winning the PCL ERA title,
there have been some chatter if Blackburn or Blach will pitch in the Majors
first but we now know who did. Blackburn still pitched to contact but his way
didn’t played well this time in he unforgiving PCL. Based on his 2016 season, I
can say that Blackburn’s future is going to be a spot starter.
Cyr is a promising reliever with a
knockout fastball-curveball combo from the right side. Command has plagued him
in college and in his first taste as a pro but has improved on attacking the
zone and the results are very good. He has the ability to move quickly in the
system if he keeps improving the command of his fastball.
Other Prospects That I Like In No
Jacob Heyward- The
younger brother of Jason, he has impressed me with his bat speed and his
competitive drive. His ability to draw walks and the overall hit tool will be a
question for the 2017 season to be answered. He looks poised to join the Top 30
if he produces a very good year.
Sandro Cabrera- Young
but very skinny, Cabrera showed a good fastball-curve combination in the
Arizona League but he has just made his Sally debut this season at age 21 (1
relief stint) and he’ll be 22 this year so there’s a lot of time to catch up
to. He needs to fill up his frame as well in the offseason.
Gustavo Cabrera- His
first taste of full season baseball, Cabrera fared pretty well but it was
obvious that there are still a lot of things to work on as his bat looked very
raw and rarely draws walks. When he hits the ball well though, the ball flies.
Hunter Cole- Austin
Slater has leapfrogged Cole on who’s the better prospect between them. While
Slater improved dramatically his power stroke, Cole battled inconsistency and
his bat still got too much swing and miss to be excited about his bat.
Ronnie Jebavy- The
defensive wizard at center field, his questionable hit tool has been exposed
and had been some sort of a power hitter rather than hitting for average,
hitting 12 homers but with 153 Ks. His defense will continue to carry him
towards the Upper Minors but the ability to hit for average must improve.
Garrett Williams- Quite
an enigmatic pitcher, his fastball-curveball flashes plus when he’s on. The
problem is that he rarely gets on even though his mechanics looks repeatable.
There’s some Kyle Crick in him so here’s to hoping he’ll figure it out.
Caleb Smith- The
second best lefty reliever in the organization after Okert, hitters really had
a tough time squaring up his pitches and he packs some deception as well but
he’s 24 and yet to crack San Jose. If he continues to blow by hitters in 2017,
he’ll be an asset from the left side.
Ryan Howard- He’s
the type of players that gets you. He got average tools across the board but
plays up because of his instincts. But he still needs to improve on his tools
for him to succeed.
Jean Angomas- One
of my readers named Carmot’s has him as under the radar players, he has been
stuck as a third string OF in the Augusta roster but he got tools that warrants
Gio Brusa- A corner OF
power threat but he got a long swing and he needs to cut down on his strikeouts
to make some noise.
Ricardo Genoves- Possibly
the second best catching prospect in the organization, he’s still in Dominican
Republic as a defense-first catcher. He hit well early but struggled with
hitting for average as the season worn down. If he can continue to improve his
hitting to pair up with his defense that’s starting to impress me (check out
his catching workouts in his Instagram), he has a chance to play in the upper
Minors or possibly the Majors 4 to 5 years from now.
Manuel Geraldo- A
young and athletic player with good speed, Geraldo’s bat is still raw but for
me, he’s a better prospect than his fellow Dominican Kelvin Beltre.
Absolutely outmatched in his San Jose stint and since his demotion to Augusta,
he has produced similar stats that he produced in 2015. The question in my mind
is if this is his offensive ceiling. In 2017, he should answer that question
because if his career as an outfielder will be done, his arm capable of
throwing mid-90s fastballs should be a nice second career as a pitcher.
Jonah Arenado- Nolan’s
younger brother still profiles as a corner infielder but there’s too much
strikeouts and too little walks to excited.
Chase Johnson- Bullpen stint has done good things on him but the stock went crashing down this season.
Dillon Dobson- First
baseman’s bat really needs to show up to have any value in that position and
Dobson’s bat fared good in Augusta but he looks like a High Minors player than
a true Major Leaguer.
Adon-A pitcher who throws in the mid-90s and has
impressive slider is certainly going to intrigue me. The problem that he’s not
that high on me is that he is going to be 23 this year and he is yet to reach
full season ball. His command is also suspect currently so he needs time to
Malique Ziegler and Jose Layer- A
2016 draftees out of Puerto Rico with exciting tools in the outfield, both will
be in my list to follow in the 2017 season.
Steven Duggar- A
change in the swing (specifically, the bat path and the angle of attack)
resulted to a big boost in average and partner it up with his impressive eye at
the plate, an above average hit tool is a big possibility.
C.J. Hinojosa- Came
out of nowhere, his eye is very good and his swing produces hits at a constant
rate. Kind of like Arroyo-lite, he should be good.
Sandro Fabian- A
guy with average tools the first time I saw him, he’s better than I thought
when I saw his videos in Arizona League.
Austin Slater- His
power stroke massively improved and he should be ready to help the club in one
to two years.
Matt Gage- He produced
the stats to back up his breakout campaign, highlighted by three near no-nos.
They Have Joined The Cellar Dwellers
Kyle Crick- He is still
in the Richmond starting rotation, don’t worry. The coaches made him pitch to
contact this season and it improved his walk rate from a little more than a
walk per inning to half a walk per inning. His strikeout rate massively
declined and he got lit up to a 5 ERA with his FIP close by. Looks like he
doesn’t have any traction anymore as a starting pitcher and I am begging for
more than 2 years now to convert him to a reliever where his strikeout stuff
should play. I am one of the biggest Crick critics since the start of 2014 but
I still have some hope in him to be a viable pitching asset.
Ray Black- Did Ray
Black died? The answer is *no. The asterisk is where it’s questionable. In
2016, he is still the classic Ray Black, striking out 15 per 9 innings but
continues to walk a batter an inning. He got shut down in August due to an
elbow bone spur injury. He’s going to be 27 and honestly, I have little
expectations for me anymore, if there are. He’s going to be just a Steve
Dalkowski legend of a legendary fastball but couldn’t harness it.
Five Highest Ceiling Prospects Outside
The Top 5
Chris Shaw- If his
hitting checks out and if the defense is at most average, he can be an
above-average masher of baseballs.
Sandro Fabian- He
got a long ways to go but the bat and the defense showed promise to be an above
Heath Quinn- If
the offense continues to show up in 2017, he fits the mold of a classic RF.
Matt Krook- Still a
long ways to go but if everything clicks, his ceiling is as high as it gets,
possibly a #2 SP.
Jalen Miller- His
bat is still as raw as a piece of meat in the butcher’s shop but if he can make
significant strides with the bat and the defense continuing to improve, he’ll
be an above average second baseman.
Possible Breakout Players for 2017
Pat Ruotolo- You
might say WHOOOO??? but Ruotolo is really a nowhere pick that I project to
break out. He’s the closer for the Volcanoes in 2016 and he flashed a nasty
fastball-curveball mix. The mechanics is also very deceptive as he reaches as
far back as he can like Ubaldo Jimenez and repeating it consistently in the
bullpen will be his biggest challenge.
Sandro Fabian- I
know he’s in the top 10 of many already but there’s still a lot more room to
tap on and if everything will be well, he got a good shot to be the
organization’s best prospect in 2 to 3 years.
Garrett Williams- My
personal pick to break out this season, Williams has to take a big step forward
in his command for his stuff to reflect in the box scores. I think that there’s
just some minor tinkering to be done because the overall motion looks
Ronnie Jebavy- His
swing really is all that he needs to focus on. I think that he’s pressing too
much at the plate, thinking of doing damage all of the time. While that’s good,
I think that he’s hurting his stock even though he produced double-digit
homers. If he gets on base and utilize his plus speed more, he’ll be as good as
Riskiest Players To Follow
Sandro Fabian- I
know he’s all over my lists but he deserves it. He’s going to be 19 and he got
a lot of room to fill in terms of his ceiling so there’s an obvious risk
involved here even though he’s more polished than most teenage hitters.
Garrett Williams- I
chose him to break out in 2017 but I’m not as confident to say that as when I
chose Steven Duggar to be my break out prospect last year in this interview.
The present and potential command is so far off that he might not reach it if
he doesn’t work enough.
Jalen Miller- He’s
going to be in this list as long as his hit tool is still a question. He’s
still very young and he’s poised to take at second shot at the unforgiving
Sally League so hopefully, he’ll improve this time around.
Jordan Johnson- His
stock is as volatile as a ticking time bomb. His ceiling can be as high as a
mid-rotation option or as low as an organizational filler so he really need to
step up in his command and his stamina in order to succeed in 2017.
Matt Krook- As a guy
who failed his physical as a HS draftee by the Marlins to a blown elbow,
Krook’s value is as volatile as it gets. The command should improve as he moves
away from the surgery but there’s still the burning question of how good his
command will be post-TJ. The early reviews are mixed but let’s see next season
if he can improve on his command, fastball velocity, and arm action.
Best Tools (Descending from 1st
Arroyo, Miguel Gomez, Steven Duggar
Power: Chris Shaw,
Dylan Davis, Heath Quinn
Jebavy, Steven Duggar, Johneshwy Fargas
Fargas, Steven Duggar, Sandro Fabian
Jebavy, Steven Duggar, Bryan Reynolds
Duggar, Johneshwy Fargas, Jalen Miller
Fastball: Ray Black,
Reyes Moronta, Rodolfo Martinez
Curveball: Tyler Beede, Tyler Cyr, Garrett Williams
Suarez, Joan Gregorio, Steven Okert
Changeup: Tyler Beede, Ty Blach, Andrew Suarez
Command: Ty Blach,
Andrew Suarez, Clayton Blackburn
hope that you enjoyed reading this prospect primer as well as my first post! I
also hope that you will keep on reading my work and my colleague’s works here
at Giants Farm!