San Francisco Giants’ Top 10 Prospect List Released


As the start of the 2015 season creeps closer, Baseball America has released their list of the San Francisco Giants‘ top 10 prospects for this year. Five players who weren’t ranked last year by the publication found a spot this time around. There are some surprises coming from this list as well, including the number one prospect from the last two years relinquishing that title.

The list looks like this:

Jun 24, 2014; Omaha, NE, USA; (Editor

1 – C Andrew Susac

2 – RHP Tyler Beede

3 – RHP Kyle Crick

4 – RHP Keury Mella

5 – RHP Clayton Blackburn

6 – LHP Adalberto Mejia

7 – LHP Ty Blach

8 – RHP Hunter Strickland

9 – IF Matt Duffy

10 – SS/2B Christian Arroyo

The list features a catcher at number one, followed by seven pitchers. The fact that this list is dominated by hurlers is not surprising, considering the Giants have won their championships on the back of their staff. It is surprising, however, that Susac found his place at number one after being unranked in 2014.

Susac was called up to the big league club in late July following a concussion to backup catcher Hector Sanchez, and immediately established himself as a potential catcher of the future. In just 35 games, he hit .273 with eight doubles, three home runs and 19 RBI, and played excellent defense. His emergence gives manager Bruce Bochy more confidence to move Buster Posey to first base, or sit him altogether.

Beede, the team’s 2014 first-round draft pick, jumps Crick, the incumbent number one, to become the team’s second-best player in the system. He appeared in just six games in the farm last year, but he pitched to the tune of a 3.00 ERA, with 18 strikeouts in 15 innings. He split time between the Rookie League Arizona Giants and the Low-A Salem-Keizer Volcanoes. Beede has the look and makeup of a future ace, but he’s still quite a ways away from big league action.

Crick falls to number three after being the team’s top prospect for two years running. There’s no denying that Crick has fantastic stuff, but he constantly shoots himself in the foot. In Double-A Richmond last season, he went 6-7 with a 3.80 ERA, coupled with an outstanding 11.1 strikeout per nine innings rate. The big, huge, glaring hole in Crick’s game is his control. He walked 6.1 per nine innings last year. If Crick can harness his killer pitches, he’s a bonafide top of the rotation starter. He could become a special project for Giants’ pitching coach Dave Righetti.

Mella is an intriguing prospect, and the praise has been extremely high. In a 2014 scouting report from the Augusta Chronicle, David Lee said Mella “has the highest ceiling of an Augusta player since Kyle Crick… [and] the best stuff of an Augusta starting pitcher since Madison Bumgarner.” That translated to a 4-4 record last year, with a 3.48 ERA. He also has good control, as evidenced by 2 BB/9, and 4.37 K/BB rates. He missed a good portion of 2014 with a rotator cuff injury, and right now, it’s unclear how he will handle a full season into September.

Oct 25, 2014; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants relief pitcher

Hunter Strickland

throws a pitch against the Kansas City Royals in the 9th inning during game four of the 2014 World Series at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Blackburn jumped five spots from 2014, up to number five this year. He had a very good season with the Double-A Richmond Flying Squirrels, where he started 18 games. He finished 5-6, but posted a 3.29 ERA and 1.226 WHIP. He’s a control pitcher, with a 4.25 K/BB rate last year, and 5.33 K/BB career. He’ll most likely start the year in Triple-A Sacramento, but if a Giants’ starter falters next year, Blackburn could be the first to get a call-up. He turned 22 early in January, and he still has time to develop further.

Mejia falls two spots to number six, but he still has great potential to be a starter in the big leagues. He struggled a little in Double-A last year, and figured to head back there to start this season. He will have to serve a 50-game suspension before he can pitch again, as he was caught using a diuretic banned in the United States. That costs him about a third of the season, and will probably halt his advancement to Triple-A for another year. His weight has been a problem for him, and he will need to find a safer way to keep it under control.

Blach moves up one spot from eight to seven this year. The lefty has advanced quickly through the ranks, as he spent all of 2014, only his second full season, in Double-A. He pitched well, posting an 8-8 record with a 3.13 ERA, and proved his durability by starting 25 games and throwing 141 innings. He doesn’t have ace-stuff, but he should make a solid third or fourth starter when his time comes.

Strickland and Duffy both got shots in the bigs in 2014, but their rookie status remains intact. Strickland threw seven shutout innings in the regular season with nine strikeouts, but blew up in the postseason, allowing six home runs, a postseason record. He has to learn to trust the off-speed pitches, as he does have a very good curveball. His 100 mph fastball is a great weapon, but it can’t be his only weapon.

Duffy made the most of his time as a backup infielder, hitting .264 in 60 at-bats. He’s got good speed, but he won’t steal a ton of bases. He’s more of a smart runner who will take extra bases and advance on borderline wild pitches. He showed a knack for that in the postseason. His role in 2015 is uncertain, as he could stay with the Giants, but he could also find his way to Triple-A due to roster constraints. If he doesn’t make the opening day roster, he will be called up at some point.

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Rounding out this year’s top 10 is Arroyo. After being the sixth-best prospect last season, his stock fell after struggling in 2014. Arroyo started strong in Low-A Salem-Keizer, hitting .333 with 14 doubles, five home runs, and 48 RBI in 58 games. His season took a nosedive when he moved to Single-A Augusta, where he batted just .203 in 31 games, along with three doubles, a single home run, and 14 RBI. He was the first-round pick in 2013, and is still just a teenager, so don’t lose hope on this promising young middle infielder yet.

Five players from the 2014 list were not involved this season. Edwin Escobar (#2) and Heath Hembree (#7) were traded to the Boston Red Sox for Jake Peavy. Joe Panik (#9) dropped off the list because he is no longer an eligible rookie. Mac Williamson (#5) played just 23 games in 2014 before falling victim to the dreaded Tommy John surgery, but he should be ready to go by Spring Training. Chris Stratton (#3) had a poor 2014, going 8-9 with a 4.80 ERA and 1.475 WHIP between San Jose and Richmond.

The Giants’ farm system isn’t great, but there’s a ton of young arms to be excited for. The team has never exactly lit up the scoreboard, but rather, pitched well enough to keep opposing offenses down. With the way the system looks right now, that should continue in the future.

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