Impact Starting Pitching
Once Tyler Beede graduates from prospecthood, the Giants farm system will take a big hit. Even though Ty Blach, Chris Stratton, Clayton Blackburn and Andrew Suarez have showed polish and have their eyes set on complementing the big horse that is Madison Bumgarner, they are at most back-end pitchers (Suarez can be something more than that). Here are some of the pitching prospects in the draft to take a look at:
Brendon Little and Blayne Enlow- See here. Little's stock has been on the rise lately so there's a chance that he might not make it by the time the Giants will have a shot at him with the 19th overall selection.
Griffin Canning- While he's not the highest ceiling pitching prospect on the college scene, he is one of the most polished. What I love him is that he throws strikes consistently. His fastball can scrape mid-90s, his changeup looks above average and his curve and slider are average pitches, all playing up with his ability to spot all four consistently and the deception in his mechanics by hiding the ball with his body. His frame can still add strength as he matures. He is a good bet to move quickly through any farm system and if the Giants stay on course with drafting pitching, drafting him makes sense.
Corbin Martin- Primarily a reliever in his college career, Martin has the tools to transition to starting pitching. His mid-90s fastball has good life and can reach 98 MPH, his power curveball is a second plus offering with hard, late snap on it and his changeup looked good enough to be a third pitch. His mechanics look sound but he needs polish on his feel for his pitches. Drafting relievers and converting them to starters has not been the Giants M.O. at the early stages of the draft (the Reds should be drooling on him right now) and there is the concern of velocity dip once a reliever becomes a starter but Martin's ceiling is considerably high and should be on the radar.
Jacob Heatherly- It's pretty rare to see high schoolers with advanced feel for pitching but if they do pop up, they end up at the very top of the draft. While Heatherly's just sitting in the low-90s, he hit 94 MPH in Perfect Game All-American Classic, albeit in a relief role. His ability to spot his fastball on both sides of the plate is impressive and his curveball flashes above average with his change and slider showing good potential. I like his aggressive tempo in his mechanics and his ability to repeat it well but the problem that I see is that he lacks physical projection. But still, his body can mature and should be an innings-eater in the long run. His stuff might not be prime time but the ability to move quickly as a HS pitcher is breathtaking. The problem that I can see is that he might be picked before the Giants would have their chance.
Peter Solomon- The Giants really take a hard look at the Cape Cod League and even though some fizzle in the college season, the organization still drafts prospects due to their performance at the Cape. Solomon's performance there is undeniable with a 0.55 ERA and .086 batting average against. His fastball ranges from 92-94 MPH and has a chance to improve due to huge projection remaining in his body. His slider and curveball flash plus, especially the latter with 12-6 break, and his changeup is solid. His mechanics are not the most ideal in terms of dreaming of plus command but it should be good enough for him to think of him being a starter in the long run. Even if he struggles this season, the Giants could still strongly consider drafting him due to his performance at the Cape.
Seth Romero- Romero in this early season has been striking out hitters at a dazzling rate and that's largely because of his stuff. His fastball is plus from the left side, reaching 95 MPH with some tail and his slider has a chance to be a wipeout pitch with a late, sweeping break coming from a low 3/4 slot. Even though his mechanics aren't the prettiest in the world especially with his inverted W, he showed very good command of his main pitches. He doesn't throw a changeup a lot and his lack of consistency with the pitch is proof, but given his feel for his stuff, it could be an average pitch for him down the road. Given his stocky build, he needs to take care of his body to be consistently good. I don't really dig Romero and he didn't play in the Cape but his stuff and feel should intrigue the Giants.
Colton Hock- I don't really dig Hock but he performed well in the Cape and with some mechanical fixes, his ceiling can be tapped. His frame is already large and in charge but there's good athletic actions on the rubber. His fastball sits in the low-90s but with his over-the-top release point, it plays well. His curveball is a big bender with a chance to be plus-plus but that potential is related to his fastball command which is still below-average. Even with his athleticism, his mechanics need plenty of polishing, especially with his balance. The Giants have been good at polishing rusty pitchers with great potential coming out of college (Tyler Beede is one), so if the Giants like the untapped ceiling that Hock has, they will take him.
If you are a farm system guy like me and you really dig catching prospects, looking at the San Francisco Giants farm system isn't the best place for it. I can consider it a barren place for catchers since there is only one notable catching prospect in the organization and that's Aramis Garcia. It helps that the Giants have Buster Posey crouching behind the dish and will likely catch for at least 5 more years and they can just grab catchers in the free agent market to back him up. In the case that the Giants might press the panic button in this year's draft class, here's some that they can choose from:
Hagen Danner- While he made his mark on the draft radar as a pitcher (I remember watching him in a MLB.com livestream against Kyle Hurt if I'm not mistaken), I like him more as a catcher and he should stay there. His athleticism and his arm strength on the mound translates well at catcher, with a chance to be an above-average defender with plus arm strength. At the plate, he demonstrate good hands and solid average pop with a chance to be an above-average hitter at full maturity. His potential two-way impact should intrigue scouts and if the Giants will ever look at a catcher for their first pick, he should be the guy to develop and be the heir apparent once Posey can't catch and will transfer to 1B.
J.J. Schwarz- In the case that he struggles this season, Schwarz will be available for the Giants to be drafted. He has plus raw power to all fields but his hit tool backs up his power. He showed the ability to draw walks and work the count but it contributes to his strikeout totals last year. He can catch with his good hands, good instincts and solid arm strength but he has played more DH. That said, his offensive potential as a catcher is very nice and the Giants drafted Garcia, a bat-first catcher, before and drafting Schwarz is an insurance possibility.
It's been long told that the Giants have one of the best homegrown infields in baseball. Even though that is already a fact, there's still a huge possibility for the Giants to trade one or two pieces of the talented infield, possibly Brandon Belt and/or Joe Panik, to help improve the farm system or one of the weak spots on the Major League club. With that said, there are plenty of infield prospects to consider but they will be probably looking at 2B and 3B prospects or SS prospects that can move to other positions since Brandon Crawford is looking like a Giant until he retires:
Keston Hiura- See here. Even though he can play the outfield, his elbow injury is a concern regarding his arm strength and he said that he prefers playing the infield so he's a 2B prospect for me. That said, his early performance is very promising despite the injury and is still a frontrunner for the possible Giants first pick.
Jake Burger- The Giants love power and Burger certainly has plenty of that. He can hit a baseball to all fields thanks to his raw strength and natural loft in his swing and he has strong wrists as well as a solid eye to hit for a good average. There are some detractors to his bat since he only has average bat speed and an arm bar that can hinder him at the next level but I believe that he will hit for a solid batting average at the highest level. He moves well with respect to his stocky frame in terms of his defense at the hot corner and he has the arm strength to stick to third base long term. I can see his speed degrading as he matures but teams won't be too concerned on that. If he shows enough hitting ability this season, he should be one of the top targets of the Giants in the draft.
Dalton Guthrie- He profiles as a classic Giants pick; a middle-of-the-field guy with good contact skills, not a lot of power, good defense at his position and tremendous baseball IQ. His swing is geared for line drives and he sprays baseballs all over the field with good bat speed and sound approach, drawing a good amount of walks. His speed is above-average, and while his glove is solid, his instincts, body clock and coordination makes me think he'll stick at short. There's no doubt that he embodies what the Giants have been doing for the past few years, getting and developing fundamentally sound baseball players.
Jason Willow- The Giants have been known to draft "outside the box" in the past and Jason Willow might be the best out of the box pick out there. He's got good raw power with a projectable, athletic frame but he's more of a pull power hitter and needs to utilize the whole field. That said, his strong wrists and contact-heavy approach could make him be an average hitter or even more. His arm is plus anywhere and he has nice fielding actions all over the infield, but his lack of raw speed will limit him to be a third baseman in the long run. There's a possibility that he'll commit to college and be an even better player but if you are willing to buck the trend, Willow's the guy to draft and be satisfied.
The Giants farm system is littered with a lot of outfielders in many top prospects lists (including mine) but there's still the huge problem of having a homegrown outfield or at least, developing an outfielder and making a big impact in the Majors. With that in mind, I bring you the best possible outfielders that the Giants can draft and finally break the curse once and for all:
Garrett Mitchell- See here. He and Keston Hiura are my favorite 1B players to follow in this year's draft that can be drafted by the Giants.
Calvin Mitchell- The other Mitchell is related to one of my idols and fellow Giants blogger DrB so it makes sense to pay attention to him. He has the ingredients of a special hitter. His swing is so smooth and quiet that he looks like a seasoned college bat, with strong wrists and he barrels balls consistently. His power is towards his pull side but he has the chance to spray 20+ doubles all over the field. His speed is average and his arm strength will limit him at left so he needs to hit to succeed. I would not be surprised if he got drafted by the Giants with the California connection and his hitting ability from his left side.
Michael Gigliotti- Drawing Jacoby Ellsbury comps is no easy feat, but Gigliotti has a chance to be the true center fielder that the Giants have been looking for. He's got the athleticism for his three at least above-average tools to show up, his hitting ability, his speed and his glove. He's also a great bunter and has showed the aptitude to draw walks. His power however might be more on gap to gap power and reliance on his raw speed than his raw strength. His arm strength is also below average but with that kind of athleticism, guys like Gigliotti are hard to come by and the Giants will pounce on him if ever he gets makes it to them. Take note, he's the best player in the Cape this season.
Cole Brannen- If you want a baseball player that has top-shelf speed while doing other things well, Brannen is your guy. His 60-yard dash is a remarkable 6.18 seconds, and his speed along with his advanced defensive instincts with a good arm will make you think that he's already a future Major Leaguer defensively. He's no slouch at the plate either, with quick hands and good bat speed. He can be a double digit homer power once his body matures but I see him more of a doubles and triples-type of hitter with his line drive swing. It's not tough to imagine Brannen to be a potential impactful player wherever he may play and the Giants can afford to let him develop if he ever gets drafted.
Cole Turney and Conner Uselton- I will combine the two because both are similar in nature with the only difference is that Turney is a lefty and Uselton is a righty hitter. Uselton has immense raw power, above average speed and plus arm to stick to center field while Turney has immense raw power, good enough speed and arm to play in the right field. The problem with both is their hit tool; Uselton's height makes his swing have holes and both Uselton and Turney's feel for hitting are still suspicious enough to doubt. I can't really see the Giants digging into the two since both don't have the hit tool that the Giants want, but both are toolsy, high ceiling players if they figure out how to hit the baseball.