San Francisco Giants’ New Age Of Pitchers Led By Chris Heston


When San Francisco Giants pitcher Chris Heston threw a no hitter on June 9th, he accomplished a feat that hasn’t completed since 2007. Clay Bucholtz, pitcher for the Red Sox, was the last rookie to throw a no hitter. When he tossed his, Heston became the 22nd rookie to throw a no-hitter.

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While any no hitter is extremely impressive, one thing remains true, Heston is not the best pitcher in the Major Leagues. Heston isn’t even the best pitcher on his team. What Heston does bring though, is a revolution of young pitchers for the San Francisco Giants.

Currently the San Francisco Giants rotation consists of ace Madison Bumgarner, Ryan Vogelsong, Tim Hudson, Tim Lincecum, and Heston. The team also has pitchers Matt Cain and Jake Peavy on the DL.

The current rotation has some pretty prolific names with former Cy Young winners Linecum and Peavy, a former perfect game thrower in Cain, and current wins leader in Hudson.

The only concern becomes age. Besides Bumgarner and Heston everyone in the current Giants rotation is at least 30 years old, including Peavy and Cain. Hudson is 39 so his time will be up very soon and Vogelsong isn’t far behind at 37.

The Giants have been connected to top flight pitchers in past years, reportedly courting the likes of Jon Lester, James Shields, and Max Scherzer in the 2014 offseason. Signing any of them would cost the Giants big time money. With Heston’s emergence though, it has opened the door for the Giants to not have to sign big time pitching free agents, and trust their young pitching prospects.

According to of the Giants top 30 prospects, 19 of them are pitchers. In the team’s top ten prospects, nine of them are pitchers.

While yes, it is true that not all top prospects manage to live up to their potential, with Heston’s emergence, the Giants have proven that they have a knack for molding their young arms into potential arms of the future.

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  • That becomes key with the rotation the Giants currently roster. With most of the players aging rapidly and who will likely be retiring soon, the team will need to find replacements. Instead of going out and signing players outside of the organization, the team has a multitude of prospects who can help the team straight out of the minors.

    Some of the team’s best pitching prospects lie within the top five. Kyle Crick, Keury Mella and Tyler Beede. Steven Okert is another pitcher within the team’s top five prospects, but he is viewed as a reliever rather than as a starter. It is entirely possible that the team’s 2015 first overall pick, Phil Bickford could wind up within the team’s top five prospects as well.

    Crick is the Giants’ number one overall prospect and sits at 68th on the top 100 prospect list. He has a fastball in the high 90’s that has hit 99 mph at times. He has three strong secondary pitches that deceive with sink. He has the makings of a top of the rotation starter, but has issues with an inconsistent delivery. If the team continues to develop him, he could become a staple atop the Giants’ rotation. His estimated time arrival is 2016.

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    Mella has the stuff to be another top of the rotation starter. His fastball sits in the 94-97 mph range, and he has a power curveball as a great secondary pitch. His lively change up gives him three solid pitches to work with. Through his first two minor league seasons, he has given up only one home run. He has battled injuries, but when healthy, he has shown that he can be a phenomenal starting pitcher. His ETA is 2017.

    Beede was originally drafted by the Blue Jays, but declined to sign and ended up being drafted by the Giants, becoming the 18th player in history to be drafted in the first round twice. It is well worth it as his fastball sits at 92-97 mph and his change up is a perfect complementary piece to freeze hitters. He needs to clean up some of his mechanics, but he looks to have the makings of a solid future pitcher for San Francisco.

    Bickford was another failed Blue Jays draft pick that found his way to San Francisco. His stuff seemed to fall off until he made his way to the vaunted Cape Cod League. Once there, he got his fastball back up to speed at around 93-98 mph, and was voted the MVP of the league. Bickford struck out 42 hitters in 27.2 innings. He has a long way to get to the Majors to the fact that he was just drafted. But when he makes it, he could be a stud.

    While each pitcher has their own talents, their best attribute at this point is their age. With all of the elders currently making up the Giants rotation likely cycling out soon, there will likely be a changing of the guard in San Francisco.

    Looking back at Heston, he was only a 12th round pick and made it no higher than 17th in 2012 on the Giants’ prospect rankings. He was on the prospect board but was never considered a top flight prospect like the aforementioned four were. Through twelve games though, he is pitching to a 6-4 record with 66 strikeouts and a 3.75 ERA.

    Those numbers are pretty solid for a fourth starter, and no one expected him to do more. But what Heston brings is proof. Proof that the Giants can take their young pitchers and turn them into solid starters down the road.

    In 2017, it is possible the Giants can have a pitching rotation consisting of Bumgarner, Crick, Mella, Beede, and Heston.

    The irony in Heston being the fifth starter is that he paved the way for the three prospects preceding him. While most prospects usually make the team at some point, it is rare to see three in a team’s starting rotation. With the emergence of Heston though, the Giants can trust their young guys to perform in the rotation rather than signing big name guys to take their spot.

    Soon, the majority of the Giants’ current rotation will be gone and a new age of pitchers will be taking over San Francisco’s staff. The leader of this revolution will be the fifth starter, the 12th round pick, Chris Heston.

    Next: For Giants: A Trade with the Reds Makes Sense