Before the season started, MLB Pipeline has just one San Francisco Giants farmhand, Christian Arroyo, on their top 100 list. Arroyo, the Giants first round selection in 2013, was all the way down at number 72. Baseball America released their updated rankings, and saw one player, Phil Bickford, overtake Arroyo and give the San Francisco system a boost in their rankings at number 50.
This season Bickford has split his time between Lo-A Augusta and Hi-A San Jose, and the hitter-friendly California League has not slowed down his impressive season.
On top of his impressive first few outings with the San Jose squad, he has allowed just seven hits and struck out 25. Baseball America says that he has been spotting his moving fastball and devastating-when-on slider.
Arroyo found himself move up the list himself, at number 56, and has been seeing time around the infield at shortstop (43 games), third base (23) and second (10), with most of his time at third coming since the arrivals of Brandon Bednar and C.J. Hinojosa in Richmond. With the San Francisco Giants facing a number of injuries to their infield, rumors have been flying that the Giants could promote Arroyo, but even with Joe Panik, Matt Duffy and Kelby Tomlinson on the disabled list, the Giants have yet to do so, which either means he isn't ready or that the club doesn't want to start his service clock, given that he's just 21 (barely) and it would be a short-term answer.
Regardless of his immediate future in San Francisco, Arroyo is one of only nine 21-year-olds in the Eastern League, well ahead of the typical minor leaguer and has been putting up solid numbers in Richmond this season.
The next farmhand to make an appearance on the list is right-hander Tyler Beede, Arroyo's Flying Squirrels teammate. After spending the last three months of 2015 in Richmond to mixed results, Beede returned to Double-A this season and has arguably had just one bad outing in 15 starts, on April 25 when he went 6 innings, gave up nine hits and a walk which led to four earned (a season high) while striking out four. Beede has had an additional four starts in which he gave up three earned, but otherwise has given up two or fewer in his other ten starts. Three of those four three-run games are considered quality starts, and the one exclusion was his second outing of the season when he was still working up his pitch count. He finished with 78 pitches.
First baseman Chris Shaw recently earned a promotion to Double-A, making him one of three players selected in the 2015 draft to already make it that far, joining Hinojosa and outfielder Steven Duggar. It will be interesting to see how Shaw fits into the Giants long-term plans over the next year, with all of his playing time coming at first base as a professional, and Brandon Belt signing an extension with the Giants earlier this season. It's possible that Shaw could give left field a go, but his speed would be a detriment to him out there, and MLB Pipeline has said that he should be limited to first as a pro. That, and Mac Williamson has been having an impressive showing in the outfield, can play either corner position, and has some pop in his bat to unleash upon opposing pitchers.
Finally, one of my personal favorites to keep tabs on, Adalberto Mejia, who was recently on the move up to Sacramento. After being popped with a 50-game suspension for using the stimulant Sibutramine (a drug most often used for weight loss, according to the Baseball America Prospect Handbook) last season, Mejia spent some time in the Arizona Fall League to recoup some of those lost innings. Projected as a back-of-the-rotation starter, or a useful bullpen piece, Mejia entered the season as the team's number ten prospect, and is now among the top 100 in all of baseball, sitting at 91. The lefty has the potential to control three solid offerings (low-to-mid 90's fastball, a potential swing-and-miss slider, and an above-average change) that have contributed to his rise up the charts.
If injuries befall the Giants rotation as the season progresses, Mejia could be the pitching version of Christian Arroyo, where fans clamor for his to be the name called to the big leagues.
The Giants have returned to their old ways of developing talent from within, and from the looks of things the outside world is beginning to take notice. These are just a few of the big names to be excited about, but there is also Lucius Fox, currently with the Augusta GreenJackets, who entered the season as BA's number four prospect in the system. Fox, just 19, is batting .220 and has 19 stolen bases in 58 games in Lo-A this season.