Once Buster Posey went down for the season, the wind kind of went out of the sails of the San Francisco Giants. They played admirably and stayed within striking distance for most of the season, but the utter lack of offense killed their chances. Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford were the most significant prospects to make their debut for the Giants, but they were both inauspicious debuts. Starting with the latter Brandon, Crawford had a rough time at the plate while playing strong defense. That will likely remain the case, though Crawford should improve a bit at the plate. Moving onto Belt, I have no idea what the Giants are doing with him. The team obviously never really trusted him to get it done, but there was no reason for him to A) be at AAA or B) sit behind Aubrey Huff or anyone else at the MLB level. Now, it seems like Belt will start 2012 at AAA, and I have no idea why.
In order to try and revamp the offense, the Giants traded away their top prospect coming into the season, Zach Wheeler. It didn’t work as expected, but that’s the kind of move teams should make when they’re in the playoff hunt. Trade a risky asset for an impact talent at the major-league level. It didn’t work, but the process was there.
Looking at what’s remaining in the Giants’ system, no one had a real breakout season. Gary Brown was the closest, but playing the entire year at High-A was probably a questionable decision on the Giants part and questions the extent of Brown’s actual breakout. Guys like Tommy Joseph, Hector Sanchez, and Ehire Adrianza had nice seasons, but they have significant questions about them that remain. One of the nicest things that happened to the Giants was the draft in which they made several nice selections.
Overall, the Giants system is thin, and the surplus of catchers doesn’t do much for them. It’s always nice to have extra catchers, but you can’t flip multiple catchers in a trade like you can with pitchers. That brings us to the next problem. There really isn’t a whole lot pitching in the minors, which is fine if they can keep Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, and Madison Bumgarner long-term. Otherwise, they need the system to help reload the rotation. They’ve been successful recently, so guys like Kyle Crick, Eric Surkamp, and Josh Osich seem to have a decent chance of surprising. The nice thing about the Giants system is that there’s a lot of up-the-middle talent, which is hard to come by, but with most of it about to enter AA, the attrition rate is likely to take a few of them with it.
Gary Brown CF
Age/Level (as of 4/2012): 23/AA
Projection: 3-5 WAR
Sometimes organizations do things that confuse me. Brown was a 22-year old out of college, and they let him dominate High-A for an entire season. I’m not sure what they really learned about the young man. What we do know is that his speed is an elite tool that ranks at the absolute top of the scale that he uses to run around center field and create havoc on the bases. He should be an asset in center, especially in AT&T Park, and we’re just waiting to see on the bat. If his first year is any indication, he has strong contact skills, the ability to take an occasional walk, and more power than expected. Brown, however, spent an entire year at a level he didn’t need to be at, and it would have been more useful to see him at AA for a period of time.
Tommy Joseph C
Projection: 2-4 WAR
Joining Brown at High-A, Joseph is a bit younger and plays at another very valuable position. Behind the plate, Joseph has an impressive arm, but he’s still working on the finer points of catching, like receiving, footwork, and game-calling. He did, however, make significant strides in the area, and he should remain behind the plate if he takes advantage of the next two years of development. Even if he doesn’t become a plus defensive catcher, he might be able to make a career as an offensive-minded one as he has above-average power at the plate, but the boy needs to get better at plate discipline before it destroys him. Buster Posey blocks his ultimate path, but Joseph still has a ways to go.
Joe Panik SS
Projection: 2-4 WAR
If it was clearer that Panik could stay at shortstop, he might receive a higher ranking, but even if he has to move to second base, he should still be a valuable major leaguer. The question regarding his defense surrounds his arm, but he has solid hands and range that should make him a tick above average at second. Panik’s offense, however, is his real asset as he brings a plus hit tool and an advanced approach at the plate, though he may have average (at best) power. As long as he continues to hit, the Giants will find a spot for him.
Hector Sanchez C
Projection: 2-4 WAR
Yet another catching prospect in the Giants organization, Sanchez’s size seems more comparable to Pablo Sandoval. Sanchez doesn’t have that much offensive potential, as he doesn’t have much power to go along with a solid hit tool and approach. Defensively, his conditioning gets in the way as he has problems blocking balls and with his footwork, but he’s still an overall quality defensive backstop. Sanchez’s ceiling seems kind of limited, but he seems like a guy that’s just a solid player.
Andrew Susac C
Projection: 2-4 WAR
Probably the best catching talent available in the draft, Susac fell due to a broken hamate bone that sapped his power at the plate. But power shouldn’t be a problem. With about as much power as Joseph, Susac could be an offensive force, but because of a high leg kick, there are concerns that good off-speed pitches will be the end of Susac as he shifts a lot of weight forward during the kick. High leg kicks aren’t necessarily bad, but it is an added concern. Susac is a strong defensive catcher, so his ceiling is basically tied to how his bat translates to pro ball.
Ehire Adrianza SS
Projection: 2-4 WAR
Plus defenders at shortstop will always gain some notice, and Adrianza has plus range and a plus arm. The question about him is and will always be his bat. Repeating High-A (for some reason) for most of the season, Adrianza appeared to make stride offensively, especially by walking more and adding quite a bit of power. He already makes frequent contact, and it seems like his stock should go up more. But he didn’t do so well in Low-A (though in only 38 games), and he raked while repeating a low level. It’s just hard to see how much of it was real improvement.
Kyle Crick SP
Age/Level: 19/Low-A or Rookie Ball
What do I like about Crick? I like that he already throws in the low-90s while touching 97, has two breaking balls, and that he’s very young. What do I fear about Crick? He’s really raw, and his delivery will need a little work. The main issue with his delivery is that, as he turns to toward third, his body begins falling backward, which hurts his momentum and makes the delivery hard to repeat. He could also lengthen his arm action a bit as he kind of throws like a catcher right now. Crick hasn’t been pitching long and is quite athletic, but while I like his chances, he’s got some real work in front of him.
Francisco Peguero RF
Projection: 1-3 WAR
Moving to a corner puts the focus square on Peguero’s bat, and the added focus may be Peguero’s undoing. Peguero doesn’t strike out much, but he really doesn’t do much else. What’s really concerning is the walk rate as he walked 12 times in 270 at-bats. You don’t have to walk a ton to be valuable offensively, but that’s atrocious and will be taken advantage of either in AAA or the MLB. Peguero mitigates some of this with strong defensive play, including a plus arm, but he needs to make real adjustments at the plate to be anything more than a fourth outfielder.
Heath Hembree RP
Projection: Relief Ace
Hembree certainly throws hard, though he doesn’t always know where it’s going. With a mid-90s heater and an above-average slider, Hembree looks to be a late-inning reliever. It would help if he had better control, but the control might not be bad enough, especially considering he could still have some development time at his age, to really hamper his value. Still, relievers can only be so valuable.
Eric Surkamp SP
Age/Level: 24/AAA or MLB
Surkamp, in many ways, is nothing special. He throws a high-80s fastball, a plus curveball, and an average change-up. The stuff plays up to above-average to plus control, but he has limited wiggle room in the majors. He’ll get hit if he’s not throwing it at the corners of the zone, but I can see a scenario in which the control and command is good enough to be better than what I project. I just don’t see it happening.
Big Question – Josh Osich
Drafted in the sixth round, Josh Osich was a college senior due to having Tommy John surgery last season. He has a low-to-mid 90s fastball, a change-up, and a slider. The change-up is a bit ahead of the slider at this point, but both of them flash being above-average pitches. My question is what role the Giants plan to use him in. He’s a bit older and has a power arm, which makes me think they’ll try him in the bullpen. Osich, however, has a power arm and the possible arsenal to be a mid-rotation starter. I’d really like to see them give him a chance in the rotation, but I’m not sure what they’ll do.