2011 San Francisco Giants Top 20 Prospects

The San Francisco farm has a solid mix of bats and arms. Much of the system’s blue chip talent has graduated over the years, and more is on the way out. With Brandon Belt and Eric Surkamp on their way to a full-time jobs sooner rather than later, Gary Brown, Joe Panik, Tommy Joseph, and Fransisco Peguero will have to do more of the heavy lifting. There’s some pitching on the way, especially from the 2011 Draft, along with a few Low/High A arms that could be moving quickly.

  1. Brandon Belt, 1st (AAA, Majors): Don’t be fooled by the 23 year old’s 63 game stint in the majors this year; he is going to hit, and hit a lot. Belt has been an efficient, powerful hitter in both of his two years as a Giants farmhand. The first baseman has shown well above-average patience and power, while also hitting for a very quality average from his beginning in High A to his most recent minor league stop at Triple-A. His minor league numbers Belt’s 209 plate appearance were sporadic at best, and even so he showed off his great power potential and ability to draw a walk. Strikeouts may be a slight issue in his first few years, but the tools are there for him to be one of the best first baseman in the league. 
  2. Gary Brown, CF (High A): I’m finding it hard to believe that he won’t carve out some kind of major league career for himself. At the very least his speed on the bases and defense up the middle should provide the Giants with a lot of value. Brown’s power may have been a little over-stated on the stat sheet this year, but there is some power there and he will hit. He can make a lot of quality contact and get on base at a good clip as well. With his speed, I’d imagine the organization would like to see his 56-19 stolen-to-caught ratio improved upon in 2012. Considering this was his first full pro season, it’s hard to not like what the future has in store.
  3. Eric Surkamp, LHP (AA, Majors): I’d imagine Giants fans would rather see Zach Wheeler as the team’s top pitching prospect. Don’t sleep on Surkamp, though. His fastball may not register like that of a top prospect, but his secondary stuff has the effectiveness of one. The lefty’s slurvy breaker is a legitimate strikeout pitch, and he uses his quality change-up to keep hitters from totally sitting on his high 80s heater. Surkamp isn’t a purely fly-ball/strikeout pitcher, he is capable of generating decent ground-ball numbers with his ability to change speeds. If his command is anywhere near as good in the majors in 2012 as it was this past year in the minors, he’ll be an excellent back of the rotation arm at least.
  4. Joe Panik, SS (Short-Season A): As far as up-the-middle prospects go, the St. John’s product may be giving Gary Brown a run for his money sooner rather than later. Panik had a strong debut in the Northwest league after being drafted in June of this year, showing himself to be a well above-average offensive shortstop. Ultimately, I think the jury is still out on him defensively-speaking, but there are definitely those who are believers, and his speed could certainly give him the range to stick at the position. Even if a move to second base comes, his bat should profile rather well there.
  5. Tommy Joseph, C (High A): Coming out of high school in the 2009 Draft, I did not expect the power-hitting catcher to stick behind the plate. Some reports said he had the arm strength but lacked the quickness, and yet the 6-foot-1, 220 lbs. Joseph still manages to play the position today, even managing a 37% caught stealing rate in 2011. If he can continue to improve behind the plate, his bat could make him one of the best catching prospects in the minors. Even though his aggressiveness is an issue, you can’t totally blame a 19 year old for having a slightly less than patient approach against tougher High A pitching.
  6. Fransisco Peguero, OF (Low A, AA): One of the more dynamic offensive talents in the system, teams did not get to see as much of his stolen base talent as in years past. Peguero continued to get results with his aggressive approach at the plate though. He’s never going to walk much, and while he can hit for quality average, it will come with its fair share of strikeouts. If he ends up in a corner outfield position (which he should) then his power may or may not be enough. It depends on if he can still make enough quality contact in the majors with his aggressive approach to hit his fair share of doubles and triples, with probably double-digit HRs.
  7. Jarrett Parker, RF (High A): The University of Virginia product could eventually settle in to being a very nice complimentary bat for a major league lineup. His power and speed could be useful tools if he can just improve his approach at the plate, and presumable calm things down at the plate a bit. Parker’s shown off a very quick left-handed swing in the past, and he can definitely draw an above-average amount of walks. It may just be pitch selection, or it might be his swing. Either way, he has some things to work on to get more out of his above-average tools. He’s raw, but the base talent is there for him to do a lot of things in a lineup.
  8. Ehire Adrianza, SS (Low A, High A): Needless to say the shortstop has underwhelmed offensively in his 616 plate appearances at Low A. He hadn’t done much better at High A until this year’s 56 game stint, showing decent walk rates and quality doubles power. There have been flashes of talent offensively, both at the plate and on the bases (although big drop in steals this year), but they need to be seen with more consistency. Ideally he figures out High A and moves on to the challenge of Double-A in his age 22 season next year.
  9. Andrew Susac, C (Yet to Debut): When Susac was drafted in 2009, he boasted big arm strength and big power, all wrapped up in generally raw talent. I’m not sure much has changed. The book still seems the same, with strong catching abilities and good raw power for a backstop. It’s good that Oregon State thought his defense was good enough to stick at catcher, and I’m sure that he’s learned a lot in his two years there. For a reference point, the talented Austin Hedges was drafted a round later. Susac has a very intriguing blend of offensive and defensive upside. It’s just a question of if that upside can be reached.
  10. Heath Hembree, RHP (High A, AA): He was drafted on sheer upside, as he showed plenty of stuff coming out of the College of Charleston in 2010, and it certainly showed up again in 2011. In Hembree’s first full season encounter with professional baseball, he simply dominated High A and Double-A lineups with his fastball. It seems as if he could be a high-leverage bullpen arm in the majors very soon if he has another repeat performance. While the transition is difficult, it would be interesting to see how Hembree fares as a starter. Nevertheless, it’s likely that his repertoire and mentality is best suited for a late-inning role.
  11. Jesus Galindo, OF (Short-Season A): While obviously a bit older (and behind developmentally-speaking), I view him in the same vein as a Reymond Fuentes type. Think little to no power, only a decent walk rate, but plus defense and base-running skills that make him incredibly relevant in this era of play. Galindo has the speed, and more importantly the instincts, to be a big stolen-base threat. Even though his swing won’t be generating power, it should allow him to hit for decent average and contribute enough offensively to be a regular. Improved on-base skills could do a lot for his value, both in improved wOBA and more opportunities to use his high percentage steal skills.
  12. Josh Osich, LHP (Yet to Debut): I assumed Osich’s raw talent would earn him higher than a 6th round selection this past June, but apparently I was wrong. At this point he’ll either have fully returned (in skill) from the arm surgery of his sophomore year, or we’ll find that his arm just isn’t quite what it once was (like when his velocity was in the mid 90s, pre-injury). I’m leaning towards the former, or at least somewhere close to that. It seems like a fair guess since he spent most of his junior year getting his feel back for pitching, barely getting the chance to work on his breaking ball. In that half-rehab season, his stuff did slowly come back, velocity and break included. If so, both pitches could be well-above average for a lefty.
  13. Kyle Crick, RHP (Rookie League): While the big righty out of Texas doesn’t have much to project on, one shouldn’t consider that to be bad. There is still plenty of work for the 19 year old righty to do, but the stuff is already there for him to challenge professional hitting. He’s definitely raw and will need to iron out some mechanical inconsistencies, though. Like another fellow Giants 2011 Draftee to be mentioned later on, I think he would have gone higher in less-stacked drafts. Crick could move quickly with improved command.
  14. Michael Kickham, LHP (Low A): One of four quality lefties on this list, he can get plenty of swinging strikes while also showing off well above-average ground ball numbers. Coming out of Missouri State in 2010, this was his first full year, so one should take his age 22 season being spent at Low A with that in mind. Next year you hope that he can take his above-average velocity and solid slider to Double-A if everything goes right. Emerging out of the JUCO circuit to land at Missouri State, to then getting drafted in the 6th round all around the span of a year is impressive. His stuff should continue to improve if past performance is any indicator.
  15. Seth Rosin, RHP (Low A): I’m not sure how many expected Rosin to succeed as a starter coming out of Minnesota. Personally, I don’t see how you don’t try him there with the quality of his sinker. Most notably with Rosin, he has maintained the same type of quality strikeout rates that he did in college. Heading into his age 23 year, one would probably like to see him get a taste of Double-A competition at some point. After Surkamp, he might move faster than any other  starter.
  16. Clayton Blackburn, RHP (Rookie League): The second of two Texas high school righties already built for professional baseball, Blackburn showed why he was a steal in the 16th round this past June. His velocity might not be as big as the aforementioned Crick’s (mainly just low 90s), but his breaking ball and potentially above-average change-up could make him a fast mover. While Rookie League competition isn’t exactly terrifying to a newly-professional pitcher, Blackburn stayed in the strikezone and generated plenty of Ks.
  17. Charlie Culberson, 2nd (AA): This middle infielder worked his aggressiveness into a nice offensive performance in the California League last year. 2011 was not as kind to the 22 year old. Strikeouts continue to be an issue for Culberson, while it’s not likely he’ll be drawing walks in bunches any time soon. What speed he showed off last year seems to have vanished, although it’s likely 2012 brings better results in that regard. His 2010 campaign showed some very positive improvements in a manageable walk rate, solid power, and good speed. The Giants hope those adjustments continue in his age 23 season.
  18. Joan Gregorio, RHP (Rookie League): The main thing that comes to mind with Gregorio is projection. With his frame at 6’7″, 180 lbs., there is a lot of room left for the lanky righty to fill out and add strength. That certainly saying something when you consider that his velocity is already looking solid. Gregorio’s plenty raw, but there is a lot to like if you think he can iron out some of the kinks on the mound.
  19. Bryce Bandilla, LHP (Yet to Debut): Based on pure stuff, the lefty is one of the better arms in the system. The combo of low-to-mid 90s velocity and a quality change-up from a lefty is not something one sees everyday. Even so, Bandilla won’t amount to much if he can’t be a more consistent strike-thrower than he was in college. I’m sure the Giants will push for him to develop his slider more as a legitimate weapon during his first pro year.
  20. Joe Staley, C (Short-Season A): One doesn’t see many big name talents getting drafted out of Lubbock Christian. Not exactly a baseball powerhouse. I think the biggest question for Staley is if he can stick at catcher or not. His bat should be above-average for the position with good power and patience, but any more years of just 21% of runners caught won’t do. You could just as easily argue for Chuckie Jones here based on his higher upside, but Staley could quietly become a solid catching prospect if his defense can grade out at least average.