As Alex Pavlovic wrote on Thursday morning, "The Giants are aiming high in their search for bullpen help." Aiming higher means giving up more to acquire a player, which is likely one of the most obvious sentences ever written. With that in mind, I wanted to take a look at four of the Giants top-tier guys that could be on the move in about a week's time.
Phil Bickford, RHP--San Jose
Last year's first round selection has been quite impressive this season, posting a 2.70 ERA and a 2.46 FIP in 60 innings with Augusta before being promoted to the California League to join the San Jose Giants. With San Jose Bickford has a 2.77 ERA after allowing two earned in three innings last night. Heading into the game Bickford held a 10.96 strikeouts per nine rate and a 1.57 walks per nine rate, although that figure has gone up after last night's four walk outing.
According to Baseball America's Prospect Handbook, Bickford's fastball is special, not for it's velocity (91-93) but for its movement. His slider and changeup have been inconsistent at times, but the results seem to be speaking for themselves this season. Bickford has the potential to be a solid contributor to the San Francisco rotation a couple of years down the road.
Adalberto Mejia, LHP--Sacramento
Mejia, 23, dominated the Eastern League to begin the season, leading to his promotion to Triple-A on June 17. In six starts with the River Cats, Mejia has had just two quality starts, leading to a 4.29 ERA while holding a 3.90 FIP. His strikeout rate of 9.08 is the highest that it has been since he was pitching with San Jose back in 2013 (9.21). With Sacramento, Mejia has struggled with the long ball, giving up as many homers (4) in six games that he did in eleven with Richmond.
The left-hander's walk rate (2.02) has actually dropped to its lowest rate since 2012 when he held a 1.77 with Augusta. His BABIP may have something to do with his recent struggles, as he holds a .327 mark, a significant jump up from the .251 he had in Richmond. It could just be bad luck, but that bad luck puts runners on base, and the home runs he's allowing leads to more runs being scored. Mejia has the potential to be a second or third starter, but could also end up slotted third or fourth. Either way, he's another valuable piece.
Ray Black, RHP--Richmond
Ray Black doesn't know how to throw under 100 miles per hour. That's just a fact. Problem is, he has a bit of an injury risk, as he is currently on the dialed list for the second time in roughly a month. Black previously had Tommy John surgery, numerous knee surgeries and labrum surgery (per BA) that have put him on the shelf for four full seasons. To illustrate that point, he was drafted in 2011 and has accumulated only 89.1 innings since, including 29 this season with the Flying Squirrels.
His ERA this season is a bit high at 5.28, but his FIP remains a solid 3.37. His strikeout rate is elite, sitting at 15.52, and his 50 strikeouts ranks 53rd in the Eastern League this season. That rank includes starting pitchers, and Black's 29 innings pitched is by far the fewest in the top 60. The problem throughout his career has been with his control, especially for a bullpen arm. In his 89.1 career innings of work, Black has walked 69, and holds an 8.69 walk rate per nine innings this season.
If he can stay healthy, Black would be one heck of an addition to a team's bullpen. For the Giants, this could be a good time to unload the flamethrower, while the 26-year-old is still looked upon as an asset worth taking a chance on.
Christian Arroyo, SS--Richmond
We've heard the speculation loud and clear last month when the Giants were losing an infielder seemingly every day of the week. That speculation always circled around when Arroyo would get the call to the big leagues to make his debut. Well, he didn't as you have likely noticed, partially because it would be foolish to start his service clock for a quick fix, and partially because he is only 20 years old, and is already one of the youngest players in the league in which he is currently playing.
Another first rounder (2013), Arroyo had been breezing through the minors up until this season. While his batting average holds steady compared to last season's with San Jose (.284 to .304) his wRC+ has seen him go from 17 percent better than league average to seven percent below. His strikeout rate isn't insanely high at 15.5 percent, but neither is his walk rate of 5.2 percent.
As he matures, Arroyo is projected to grow into some power, somewhere in the 12-15 home runs per season range. Up until this season he had played the majority of his time at shortstop, but this season with Richmond has seen him splitting time between short (44 games), second (11) and third (27). Part of this is due to the arrival of C.J. Hinojosa in Richmond, but it could also be a way to make him more valuable to the team. Whether that team will remain the Giants after the deadline remains to be seen. As far as position players go, Arroyo is at the top of the list in the Giants farm system.
These are the heavy-hitters in the San Francisco farm system, and if the Giants are looking to acquire a difference-maker, it's very likely at least one of these four names will be brought up. Black is the one that could be seen as more of a complimentary piece, but he's a complimentary piece with some big upside. Arroyo, Mejia and Bickford would be the prospect to headline any deal.
There have also been rumors that the Giants could potentially move someone from their big-league roster in a potential deal, as the New York Yankees were rumored to have been asking about current DL inhabitants Joe Panik and Matt Duffy. If either of these two were to be moved, that would open up a spot for Arroyo in San Francisco, and if he were to be deemed ready for his debut, his service clock wouldn't be an issue since he would likely keep the job and not be sent back down.
One other name that could intrigue trade partners is catcher Andrew Susac. He has major league experience behind the best catcher in the game, and is on a bit of a hot streak, smashing five homers in his last ten games. If the plan is not to have him as anything more than a depth option, the 26-year-old could be another valuable trade chip.
This should end up being one of the more interesting trade deadlines in recent memory with the way the market seems to be playing out, and asking prices seemingly very high.
Which prospect is on your no-trade list? Let us know in the comments below!