Minor League Keeper Thoughts: San Francisco Giants

Jennifer Hilderbrand-US PRESSWIRE

Jason Hunt takes a look at some of the top fantasy prospects in the San Diego Padres organization.

Over the coming weeks, Craig and I will be taking a look at some of the more relevant prospects in each of the 30 MLB organizations. We won't be looking at each prospect in every organization, but rather to provide brief profiles of players that are either expected to make an impact as soon as next season, or are worth watching in dynasty and keeper formats. In general, they will be sorted in the order of when they are anticipated to be in the Majors, even though it is no guarantee that they will get there.

Our goal is to speak more to each prospect's fantasy value, so while we do look at a player's defense, it is really only in the context of where they will end up when they get to the Majors, and how that may affect their long term outlook. We will be going roughly in alphabetical order, and planning to have the series completed by the end of the year.

Previous Reviews

NL West: Arizona, Colorado, Los Angeles, San Diego
NL Central: Chicago, Cincinnati, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh
NL East: Atlanta, Miami, New York, Philadelphia
AL East: Baltimore, Boston, New York Yankees
AL Central: Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Kansas City, Minnesota
AL West: Houston, Los Angeles, Oakland, Seattle


System Overview

The Giants have become known for having a few interesting prospects, and in general not a particularly deep system. This year's version is no exception, but the team has graduated a number of players in the past decade, many of whom were key pieces in their championship runs in 2010 and 2012. They have used their farm system to make key acquisitions for these runs as well.

The system is very pitcher heavy at the moment, with 3 of their top 4 prospects on the mound and many of the more interesting names to watch for also pitching. There are also a number of prospects who could jump into top 100 lists this time next year like Martin Agosta, as they have become very adept at developing pitchers.

Graduates

Hector Sanchez (C)

AA in 2012

These are players who reached the Giants' Eastern League affiliate in Richmond in 2012. They could see time in the Majors in 2013, but are more likely to arrive during the 2014 season.

Gary Brown (BBRef Statistics)

Brown was a major point of contention during our outfield prospect rankings discussions, and with good reason. You have a player who torched the California League in 2011 to the tune of a .336/.407/.519 slash line, 14 home runs, 80 RBI, and 53 stolen bases in 72 attempts. As a result, expectations for Brown in 2012 were high, especially given that there were rumors that the Mets asked for Brown first in the Beltran trade, and were rebuffed. To say that his season in AA in 2012 was a disappointment might be a bit strong, but it definitely wasn't exactly what many prospect people were expecting.

His overall numbers were solid in 2012, hitting .279/.347/.385 with 7 home runs and 33 stolen bases, but considerably lower than the previous year. It's hard to judge how much of it is related simply to leaving the California League, and how much of it was attributable to his struggles in the first half of the season.

A lot of Brown's value as a prospect is tied into his value as a defender, as he is expected to be an above-average center fielder in the Majors. However, it remains to be seen exactly what the rest of his value will be. He has shown power, but will likely not be more than a 5-10 home run bat in the Majors. He has shown excellent speed, a true 80 grade at times, but there are concerns about his ability to steal bases. Overall, there is still a lot to like about Brown, but the question marks are very large unfortunately.

Low-A in 2012

These are prospects who reached the Giants' South Atlantic League affiliate in Augusta. These players could be at least 3 full seasons from reaching the Majors.

Kyle Crick (BBRef Statistics)

Crick was drafted in the supplemental first round of the 2011 draft, and had a brief rough stint that year in the Arizona League. The Giants were aggressive with Crick, sending him to their full season Low-A affiliate in Augusta. Crick posted an excellent strikeout rate (128 in 111 innings), but also showed some control issues (67 walks).

Crick is a projectable righty who could potentially be a top of the fantasy rotation starter, providing both strikeouts and excellent rate stats in the future. He has shown an excellent fastball already, and also features a slider and a changeup.

Clayton Blackburn (BBRef Statistics)

Blackburn was the 16th round pick by the Giants in the 2011 draft, but has already shown himself to be a much better prospect than his draft position would suggest. After posting a 30/3 strikeout to walk rate in the Arizona Rookie League in 2011, the Giants sent Blackburn to Augusta as well. His numbers there were excellent (143 K/18 BB in 131 innings), including an excellent ground ball rate.

Blackburn doesn't have the same ceiling as Crick or Stratton, but he has a very high floor, and should move through the Giants' system to the Majors eventually. He should be a useful innings-eater type in the Majors, who could provide excellent ratios and decent strikeout totals at times.

Short Season in 2012

The prospects in this group reached one of the short season leagues as their final stop of the season. For the Giants, this could mean the Arizona League or Northwest League.

Chris Stratton (BBRef Statistics)

Stratton was the Giants' top draft pick in 2012, taken 20th overall out of Mississippi State. The Giants sent him to the Northwest League for his debut, where he struck out 16 and walked 10 over 16 innings. His season ended after being hit by a line drive in the head, but it sounds like he should be ready to start the season on time.

Stratton profiles as a middle of the fantasy rotation type, providing solid to above-average strikeout totals along with excellent rate statistics. He could join Blackburn and Crick in the High-A rotation to start the season, and potentially move quickly if things go as planned.

Others of Note

Joe Panik (2B/SS) - We ranked Panik as our #20 second base prospect, and the biggest thing with Panik really comes down to the fact that he is a prospect who isn't likely to provide a ton of value for fantasy owners.

Andrew Susac (C) - Susac was the Giants' 2nd round pick in 2011, and the performance in the hitter friendly California League (.244/.351/.380), left a lot to be desired, so much so that we did not rank Susac in our top 20 catching prospects.

Heath Hembree (RP) - Hembree remains one of the few true relief prospects in the minors, but struggled during the 2012 season. He could be in the bullpen for the Giants during the season, but it seems unlikely at this point that he'll be in line for saves there in 2013.

Statistics from Baseball Reference, Minor League Central, and Fangraphs
Other research from Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, and MLB.com

You can follow me on Twitter @jasonsbaseball

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