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San Francisco Giants 2015 Top Fantasy Prospects

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The prospect staff at Fake Teams continues their fantasy prospect rankings and system reviews with an in-depth look at the world champion San Francisco Giants.

Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Just like last year, the prospect staff here at Fake Teams will be taking an in-depth look at each major league organization, including our top 10 fantasy prospects, an overview of the organization's minor league system as a whole and potential opportunities for playing time in 2015. Our goal is to provide you with more information as you prepare for minor league drafts for dynasty and keeper leagues, as well as look at players that could potentially be worth watching during the spring, as they could be in line to potentially help your fantasy team. We will be reviewing two teams per week until we are through all 30 teams, and you can see the schedule of when your favorite team will be reviewed below. if we have already reviewed the team, a link to the post, along with the team's top prospect is noted.

System Schedule

AL East

AL Central

AL West

NL East

NL Central

NL West

Baltimore
(3/11)

Chicago
(2/11)

Houston
(1/14)

Atlanta
(12/10)

Chicago
(11/12)

Arizona
(Bradley)

Boston
(3/14)

Cleveland
(2/14)

Los Angeles
(1/17)

Miami
(12/13)

Cincinnati
(11/15)

Colorado
(Gray)

New York
(3/18)

Detroit
(2/18)

Oakland
(1/21)

New York
(12/17)

Milwaukee
(11/19)

Los Angeles
(Pederson)

Tampa Bay
(3/21)

Kansas City
(2/21)

Seattle
(1/24)

Philadelphia
(12/20)

Pittsburgh
(11/22)

San Diego
(Renfroe)

Toronto
(3/25)

Minnesota
(2/25)

Texas
(1/28)

Washington
(12/24)

St. Louis
(11/26)

San Francisco
(Today)

Organizational Overview
by Brian Creagh

Next up in our Top 10 series is the 2014 World Series Champion San Francisco Giants. As far as organization overviews go, this SHOULD be the ultimate guide on how to run a franchise given the team's success in the past 5 years. However, after looking at it from every angle, I can't come up with a logical explanation for what is going on in San Francisco. Underdogs every post-season, the Giants manage to find a way to get it done time and time again. Consider that the Giants played sub-.500 baseball from June 9th onwards (arbitrary endpoints be damned!), and had the worst record of all playoff teams, yet here they are standing as world champs. How they got there, is beyond me, and I'm at the point now where I'm just enjoying watching the quality product San Francisco puts on the field year-in and year-out.

Randomness can explain some of the Giants' success, but talent must be present somewhere on the roster to find success in the long-run and the Giants do a great job growing their own talent. 5 starters on offense were drafted by the organization - Panik, Posey, Belt, Sandoval, and Crawford and three of their starting pitchers this year are homegrown products - Bumgarner, Lincecum, and Cain. So as we look at a relatively lackluster minor league roster, maybe we give Brian Sabean the benefit of the doubt and plan on a few of the guys listed below will turn into solid major league assets and fantasy contributors. From an offensive perspective, the cupboard appears bare, but with some big openings coming at the big league level, the opportunities will be there for someone to take.

The system as a whole did not have a great season as consensus top prospect Kyle Crick struggled with control issues, Adalberto Mejia met his match at AA, and last year's first round pick Christian Arroyo couldn't handle an admittedly tough Low-A assignment at the beginning of the year. That's not to say that all hope is lost for this system. There are a ton of quality arms in the system, and I have little doubt some will emerge as quality rotation pieces. They also added a huge-upside arm in Tyler Beede who should be a top pick in most fantasy drafts this off-season.

There is plenty of talent remaining in San Francisco next year, so the pressure isn't mounting on the minor league system to produce. They are in desperate need for an impact bat to emerge this next season, either through the draft or from someone already in the system. It will be interesting to see if Brian Sabean reaches into the system to make a move for MLB-talent if the Giants find themselves in contention in July next year. Their window of opportunity with this current crop of players seems to be closing with Cain and Lincecum over 30 and an offense potentially losing Sandoval and Morse.

2014 Graduates

The following players have surpassed their rookie maximums of 130 AB, 50 IP, or 45 days of service time.

Joe Panik (AB)

Major League Opportunities in 2015
by Brian Creagh

Expiring contracts for the Giants include Ryan Vogelsong, Jake Peavy, Pablo Sandoval, Mike Morse, and Sergio Romo. An immediate replacement for Sandoval and Morse doesn't come to mind, with Mac Williamson too far away and nothing exciting at the higher levels of the minors. Gary Brown is an interesting name that could be ready for a shot, but I don't see them handing him the reins right away. I expect the Giants to be active in free agency to fill any holes on the offensive side of the ball. There are three interesting names for the openings in the rotation: Adalberto Mejia, Kyle Crick, and Clayton Blackburn. Each finished up the season in AA, but all of them don't seem quite ready for a crack at the big leagues. I think Mejia is the first and might get the first opportunity, but similar to offense, I don't know how comfortable the front office would be coming out of spring training with one of these as their 5th starter.

Top 10 Fantasy Prospects
by David Spracale


Our top 10 fantasy prospect rankings are based upon standard 5x5 fantasy baseball leagues, with a balancing of ceiling and present value. While we are having discussions regarding these lists as a collective group, the top 10 fantasy prospect rankings are finalized by the writer listed above. Players are no longer considered prospects once they exceed either 130 at bats, 50 innings pitched, or 45 days of service time in the Majors

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1. Kyle Crick (RHP)

Photo Credit: Joe Camporeale - USA Today Sports
2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
W SV ERA WHIP K
6 0 3.79 1.539 111
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
IP HR/9 GO/AO BB% K%
90.1 0.70 1.16 15.33% 27.89%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
21 R R AA
Roster Status: Protect After 2015 Season
ETA to Majors: Late 2015

Our top fantasy player in the farm system of the San Francisco Giants is right-handed starting pitcher, Kyle Crick. This ranking is purely a case of having a high ceiling and less about numbers that were overly impressive. The Giants have historically been aggressive with young arms, but there are some glaring weaknesses that could hold Crick back from ever coming near his ceiling. Control issues have plagued the right hander since he was drafted in the first round back in 2011, to the tune of 5.9 BB/9 in his minor league career. If the numbers were trending in a positive direction I would be more inclined to be a big believer in Crick, but he had posted a career worst 6.08 BB/9 and 3.96 FIP. I am, however, a believer in his stuff, but I don't I know if he will ever have the command to be the top of the rotation starter the Giants thought they were drafting, but I can see him developing into an elite late inning reliever with closer potential which would make him relevant as a fantasy pitcher.

The stuff from Crick is legitimate. The right hander sits in the mid 90s with his fastball with a nice slider but hasn't established a real change-up as of yet, and I am not sure he ever will if he is indeed destined for high leverage situations out of the bullpen. Over his five minor league stops (including the Arizona Fall League in 2013) Crick has struck out an average of 11.24 batter per nine innings pitched and that number could tick up if he's moved to the bullpen in an effort to limit the issues he has with command.

In the long run, I do expect Crick to transition to the bullpen if he continues to struggle with command, and command is the hardest skill to learn for pitchers. I would expect the Giants to start him at Triple-A in 2015 in the starting rotation, but if they are in contention and need a late innings reliever he could be called up to solidify the Major League pen. Once a pitcher is sent to the pen it is often difficult to transition back to a starter, so monitoring Crick's progress in early 2015 should be a key indicator as to what the Giants plan to do with their former first rounder

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2. Tyler Beede (RHP)

Photo Credit: Steven Branscombe - USA Today Sports
2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
W SV ERA WHIP K
0 0 2.93 1.5 18
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
IP HR/9 GO/AO BB% K%
15.1 0.00 1.45 10.29% 26.47%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
21 R R Rk-A-
Roster Status: Protect After 2017 Season
ETA to Majors: 2017

Another first-round arm with some high upside in the Giants farm system is 2014 number 14 pick, Tyler Beede. This year marked the second time that Beede was drafted in the first round of the MLB amateur draft, as he was drafted 21st overall by the Blue Jays out of high school in 2011, but he turned down their $2.4 million offer and attended Vanderbilt instead. Beede had some control issues as a freshman, and rebounded as a sophomore. However, command was always a bit of a question, and those concerns arose again as a junior which caused him to drop from a consensus top-10 pick to the middle of the first round, where the Giants selected him. Beede only pitched in 15 innings this season after the draft but I feel the Giants will be aggressive with their 21 year old prospect because the stuff is there and should end up as a mid-rotation starter with the potential to be a high strikeout pitcher.

Beede's velocity increased between his sophomore and junior years at Vanderbilt from 92-93 MPH to sitting in mid 90s and touching 97 MPH and is a plus pitch in his repertoire. One thing that I really like about Beede is his ability and willingness to throw an above average change-up which will allow him to be effective against left handed hitters at the Major League level. Beede's curveball is the third pitch in his arsenal, and while he struggles commanding it, the pitch could end up being an average Major League pitch, but when he's on it is a wipeout pitch that induces plenty of swinging strikes. Beede still walked too many batters in his brief stint in 2014 but the makings of a big league starter are there with the average curveball and two above average offerings in his fastball and change-up.

When projecting Beede's long-term future, I see a mid-rotation starter with the potential to be a high strikeout pitcher, which could make him more valuable to fantasy baseball than real life. This spring will be very interesting for the right hander and his future. If the command issues flare up then his stock could take a tumble, but as of right now I consider myself a firm believer in Tyler Beede.

3. Adalberto Mejia (LHP)

2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
W SV ERA WHIP K
7 0 4.67 1.39 82
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
IP HR/9 GO/AO BB% K%
108 0.80 0.64 6.75% 17.86%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
21 R L AA
Roster Status: Protect After 2015 Season
ETA to Majors: 2016

Mejia was a 2011 international signee out of the Dominican Republic and has shown the ability to throw three different pitches for strikes. In 2013, Mejia's campaign was limited due to some injury issues but he rebounded in 2014 and posted solid but not spectacular numbers. Unlike the first two pitchers in this ranking, Mejia's best attribute is his command and this could allow him to be the first of the top-3 to reach the Majors. In his nearly 400 minor league innings, Mejia has shown that command off en route to an excellent 2.09 BB/9 . Mejia is not a high strikeout guy but he's posted a respectable 7.59 K/9 in those same 400 innings.  I don't see a wipeout offering that would make him a prospect with a higher ceiling, but I feel the command makes him the likeliest of the Giants' top pitching prospects to actually reach his potential.

Mejia's value at the Major League level will come from the previously mentioned command, and his ability to stay healthy and eat up innings. His frame has the ability to withstand the grueling workload of a Major League season. Also, after watching videos of his motion, it is smooth and repeatable which lends itself to avoiding injury.

In the long run, I feel like Mejia will have more real life value than fantasy value. In most formats eating innings is not as valuable as high strikeout numbers, but Mejia could develop into a back-end fantasy starter that produces solid numbers that will not jump out at you, and in a deeper league this could be incredibly valuable.

20140223_mse_aa9_2233.0

4. Andrew Susac (C)

Photo Credit: Joe Camporeale - USA Today Sports
2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.269 47 13 51 0
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
348 0.365 0.455 11.78% 22.41%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
24 R R AAA-MLB
Roster Status: On 40-man Roster (3 Options Left)
ETA to Majors: 2015

Catching prospect Andrew Susac managed to stay under the requirements to maintain prospect status despite his time spent with the Major League club. The most difficult part in breaking down Susac's value as a fantasy prospect is that it's tied directly to the Giants best player, Buster Posey. Susac has shown excellent offensive upside, but with Posey blocking him from claiming the job full time, the more interesting analysis lies with what the Giants decide to do with Posey moving forward.

When looking at Susac's minor league numbers with the bat you can't help but be impressed especially considering his position. According to FanGraphs, in 2013, Susac put up a 129 wRC+ in 310 plate appearance at Double-A Richmond. He followed that up with a 119 wRC+ in Triple-A San Jose in 253 plate appearances before being called up to San Francisco where he continued to hit at a 128 wRC+ clip in a back-up role that only saw him go to the plate 95 times. These numbers are all encouraging, and there has never been any doubt that Susac was considered an offense first catcher since being drafted in the second round of the 2011 draft from Oregon State. The only drawback in his offensive game is he has always struck out a decent amount, but he also takes his walks. I could see Susac slashing .260/.340/.450 if he gets a shot at regular playing time.

For Susac's immediate and long-term future all of his fantasy value will be completely dependent on the Giants plans for the best offensive catcher in baseball, Buster Posey. There have been rumors and speculation that the Giants could move Posey, a former shortstop at Florida State, to third base when Pablo Sandoval gets paid in free agency and leaves San Francisco. There are also thoughts the Giants could move Posey to first base full-time where he started 30 games this past season, but kills his value on the defensive spectrum. Finally, the Giants could just keep Posey behind the dish where he will continue to be underrated defensively while posting elite offensive numbers. Until any of those decisions are made, Susac's value remains up in the air, but if he gets a shot at the everyday duties he will be in the upper echelon of options at an offensive starved position.

20140223_mse_aa9_2160.0

5. Clayton Blackburn (RHP)

Photo Credit: Joe Camporeale - USA Today Sports
2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
W SV ERA WHIP K
5 0 3.31 1.204 94
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
IP HR/9 GO/AO BB% K%
98 0.10 2.00 4.93% 23.15%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
21 R R AA-Rk
Roster Status: Protect After 2015 Season
ETA to Majors: 2016

Clayton Blackburn rounds out our top-5 in the Giants system from a fantasy perspective, and he is a prospect I never got to see in game action on MiLB.tv. The 21 year old, former 2011 16th round pick, was another young arm to work at Double-A Richmond this season and posted very solid numbers. However, there are many scouts that feel his ceiling is that of a four or five starter in the Major Leagues despite posting a 3.29 ERA, 2.59 FIP 8.23 K/9 and a 1.94 BB/9 as one of the youngest players in the Eastern League. Blackburn's fastball has a good sink to it and he uses it well, but he lacks a true out pitch, which will be exposed as he moves up to Triple-A and eventually the Majors.

From viewing videos of Blackburn, I can see the sink on the fastball and the good control, but it won't generate many swings and misses as he moves up. Blackburn's curveball tends to loop out of the hand, and it lacks enough bite to be a strikeout pitch. I can understand the concerns with his repertoire translating to a starting rotation gig in the Majors and as a fantasy option there isn't much there unless he takes a huge step forward, which doesn't usually happen when it comes to stuff.

6. Christian Arroyo (2B/SS)

2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.291 49 6 62 7
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
392 0.330 0.404 5.61% 13.52%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
19 R R A--A
Roster Status: Protect After 2017 Season
ETA to Majors: 2018

This is the point in the Giants system where I throw my hands up because you can make an argument for multiple players. At number six I went with Christian Arroyo, a young shortstop currently, but lack of range will probably move him to second at the Major League level. Arroyo was not considered a top 100 prospect in the 2013 MLB Draft and the Giants shocked a lot of experts by taking him 25th overall.

Arroyo tore up Rookie-A ball after the draft and Low-A in 2014 before being moved to Class-A Augusta. Once Arroyo got to Augusta he struggled mightily in his 125 plate appearances. However, at this early point in a player's career numbers don't mean a lot so we have to look at the tools and the body. Arroyo stands at 5-11 and weighs 185, and defensively he lacks the range needed to stick at shortstop once he advances more in the minor leagues. Arroyo has shown no power in his 600 plate appearances in the minors and that lines up with the scouting reports of him out of high school. Arroyo is a line drive hitter that will rely on a high BABIP and average K% and BB% to be effective offensively. It will be interesting to see if he rebounds in the Sally League this season, because if he continues to struggle he will be out of the Giants rankings in 2015. If Arroyo can continue to develop offensively he could be a fringy fantasy player at second base if only because the position has so few players that produce offensively, but he is still years away and 2015 will help to determine where Arroyo's trajectory will ultimately take him.

7. Keury Mella (RHP)

2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
W SV ERA WHIP K
4 0 3.45 1.21 83
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
IP HR/9 GO/AO BB% K%
86 0.10 1.80 5.18% 22.62%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
20 R R A-A-
Roster Status: Protect After 2015 Season
ETA to Majors: 2018

Keury Mella is my favorite arm in the Giants' system because he's got the best combination of upside and ability to reach that upside, but I am ranking him at seven because there are still a lot of questions that need to be answered. If he performs well in 2015 he will shoot up my, and most other, prospect lists. The one concern surrounding Mella is his ability to develop a solid breaking ball. If he fails to do so, then he will be just another power arm out of the Giants' bullpen in a few years. The one thing that leads me to believe he can develop, at least a serviceable, breaking pitch lies in his change-up. If you ask scouts, the change-up is the most difficult pitch to master and if a pitcher can develop one it bodes well for developing other pitches. With that in mind, Mella flashed some plus change-ups this year that I was able to check out online, so I am confident he will be able to mold his slurvey breaking ball into a more effective sharp breaking pitch, because as of now, it takes a bit of a loopy trajectory that won't be as effective as the hitters get more advanced.

When a pitcher's fastball sits in the 93-94 MPH range with excellent armside and downward run while displaying excellent control, you should take notice, and that is what happened for me and I think some other folks that are seasoned scouting veterans. If Mella can keep progressing as he did this past season then I could see him taking over as the Giants' top pitching prospect going into 2015 and he is definitely somebody I will be keeping an eye on as he progresses to Double-A and his games are more widely available on the MiLB.tv platform.

20140223_mse_aa9_2169.0

8. Ty Blach (LHP)

Photo Credit: Joe Camporeale - USA Today Sports
2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
W SV ERA WHIP K
8 0 3.13 1.284 91
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
IP HR/9 GO/AO BB% K%
141 0.50 1.07 6.54% 15.27%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
23 R R AA
Roster Status: Protect After 2015 Season
ETA to Majors: 2016

Ty Blach is a left handed starter with good command that could prove to be a useful backend starter for San Francisco in the near future. Blach was a bit of surprise as a 5th round pick in 2012, and the Giants gave him the summer off after his junior year at Creighton and assigned him to Class-A Advanced San Jose in 2013 where he dominated the competition. Blach was then promoted to Double-A Richmond this past year and continued to put up solid numbers to the tune of a 3.13 ERA, 3.70 FIP, 5.81 K/9, 2.49 BB/9 and 0.51 HR/9 in 141 innings pitched. The biggest thing to take from these numbers are Blach has already started to prove that 200 innings really will not be a problem for him at the Major League level. He does not walk very many batters, but will never strike a ton of guys out. He sits in the 88-90 MPH range and can touch 93, but his best attribute is not raw stuff, but rather his plus command and his ability to induce ground balls.

I see Blach starting 2015 in Triple-A Sacramento and he will continue to put up workman-like numbers and will eventually get called up in some spot start situations. If the Giants don't re-sign Ryan Vogelsong he may even get a chance to lock down the 5th spot in the Giants' rotation, though I suspect the organization will want Blach to spend at least a little time in Triple-A.

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9. Chris Stratton (RHP)

Photo Credit: Melina Vastola - US Presswire
2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
W SV ERA WHIP K
8 0 4.78 1.471 120
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
IP HR/9 GO/AO BB% K%
122.1 1.10 1.47 8.99% 22.47%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
23 R R A+-AA
Roster Status: Protect After 2015 Season
ETA to Majors: Late 2016

The 20th pick in the 2012 draft does not appear that he will ever live up to his draft status, but that doesn't mean there is nothing to like about right handed pitcher Chris Stratton. Stratton currently sits in the low 90s with his fastball that occasionally touches 94-95, and he possesses a nice slider that has been described by most scouts as a potential plus offering at the Major League level. Stratton does not possess a curveball or change-up that has developed much since his days at Mississippi State, so he appears he is going to be a two-pitch pitcher when he makes it to the Show. This repertoire will probably land him in the bullpen, and if he can up his velocity and strike out more batters he could be serviceable. However, for fantasy purposes I am not sure he will ever be relevant.

10. Steven Okert (LHP)

2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
W SV ERA WHIP K
2 24 2.11 1.16 92
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
IP HR/9 GO/AO BB% K%
68.1 0.70 1.04 7.77% 32.51%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
22 L L A+-AA
Roster Status: Protect After 2015 Season
ETA to Majors: Late 2015

I will admit some indecision when I was compiling this list but I stuck with my guy, left handed pitcher Steven Okert as the Giants' tenth best fantasy prospect. Okert was drafted twice by the Milwaukee Brewers, once in 2010 then in 2011 and finally by the Giants in 2012 out of Oklahoma. The reason I placed him in the top-10 is he is pretty much ready to be a Major League relief pitcher right now and should be a closer at that level in the near future. I have always liked Okert a bit more than most and I am not sure I have any tangible reason for that other than he throws hard and has a wipeout slider.

Coming out of Oklahoma, the one major concern for Okert was command, and it seems that has been corrected by the Giants organization. Since overhauling his delivery, Okert has simply torched the minor leagues as a reliever. His fast ball sits comfortably in the mid 90s and touches 97 and his slider is a true strikeout pitch. I feel initially he will fill the lefty out of the pen role currently occupied by Jeremy Affeldt. Okert has dominated lefties throughout his minor league career and the stuff is there for him to eventually be a dominant closer regardless of the handedness matchup, and I fully expect him to get a shot in the San Francisco bullpen in 2015.

Other Interesting Prospects
by Dave Spracale

Mac Williamson - Williamson hit well at Single-A San Jose until he was sidelined for the year with elbow surgery, which is never ideal, but especially for a player already 24 years old and still in the low minors. Williamson has plus power so if he can get back to hitting for power after rehabbing his injury his bat could carry him through the minors quickly.

Derek Law - Law fell victim to the UCL monster and had Tommy John surgery this past summer. He just turned 24, so this is a significant derailment for his career but he had been a strikeout machine before going down. He should be back towards the end of the 2015 season and is someone to keep an eye on when he does comeback.

Ryder Jones - Jones is an intriguing prospect because he has some raw home run power from the left side that hasn't been developed yet. He's only 20 years old and still playing shortstop but he will move to third base at some point. Because the run environment is so depressed I always find myself keeping up with potential power hitters.


About the Authors

Jason Hunt is a contributing writer for Fake Teams, specializing in the minor leagues and prospects
Follow him on Twitter 

Brian Creagh is a contributing writer for Fake Teams, specializing in fantasy baseball and the minor leagues.
Follow him on Twitter 

David Spracale is a contributing writer for Fake Teams, specializing in fantasy baseball and the minor leagues.
Follow him on Twitter