San Francisco Giants Top Prospects 2013, Part II: 13-24
Continuing on with my list of the Giants’ top prospects entering the 2013 season. You can find Part I of this series here.
13. Heath Hembree (RHP, 24). A fifth round pick in 2010, Hembree shot up the Giants’ prospect chart after a terrific 2011, which he split between A+ San Jose and AA Richmond, posting a 1.86 ERA on the year, recording 38 saves and striking out 78 batters in 53.1 IP. However, reality struck back at AAA Fresno in 2012, where Hembree’s ERA shot up to 4.74, because he doesn’t yet have major league command, walking 20 batters in 38 innings pitched. At least, he still struck out nearly a batter per inning pitched at the highest minor league level.
Hembree also pitched well in the Arizona Fall League in October and November, recording an even 3.00 ERA and striking out 12 while walking only three in nine innings pitched. I expect that Hembree will pitch considerably better at AAA Fresno in 2013 than he did last season, and I expect we’ll see Hembree in the majors no later than the 2014 All-Star Break.
In fact, I probably should have ranked Hembree higher on my list, possibly as high as seventh or eighth.
14. Hengerber Medina (SS, 18). You’ve probably never heard of him, but this Dominican middle infielder had a terrific year in the Dominican Summer League at age 17. In 40 games played, he hit .313 with a .453 OBP and .797 OPS. While his OPS was only fourth best on the team, the three players ahead of him were all at least 20 years old last season. He also stole seven bases in ten attempts.
Hengerber made 12 errors in his 40 games, so he’s got a long way to go defensively. However, what you look for in a hitting prospect this young is his ability to hit for average and an understanding of the strike zone. While he hasn’t shown any power yet, he’s only just turned 18. He’s listed at 5’11” and 158 lbs, but he’s probably still growing.
15. Adam Duvall (3B, 24). An 11th round pick in 2010, Duvall led the A+ California League with 30 HRs in 2012. He didn’t make it higher on this list because he turned 24 last September and still hasn’t played higher than A+ ball. Also, except for his home run and RBI totals, his 2012 wasn’t that impressive. He hit .258 on the season with an .814 OPS which didn’t quite crack the hit-happy California League’s top 20. He also made 29 errors in 2012, which is a lot.
Still, power is a very valuable skill to have, and Duvall is still young enough to have a major league career if he can continue to hit with the same power he showed the last two seasons as he moves up into the high minors.
16. Chris Heston (RHP, 25). A 12th round pick in the 2009 Draft, Heston had a better year at AA Richmond than did Michael Kickham, who is higher up on my list. Heston went 9-8 with a 2.24 ERA and a pitching line of 148.2 IP, 124 hits and 40 walks allowed and 135 Ks for the 2012 Flying Squirrels. However, Heston is a year older than Kickham, which definitely hurts him as a prospect.
While 2012 was Heston’s best season, his numbers were generally consistent with what he had done previously in his professional career. If he can continue to pitch effectively at AAA Fresno in 2013, he’ll make it up to the majors fairly soon.
17. Carter Jurica (2B, 24). A 3rd round draft pick in 2010, Jurica was the San Jose Giants’ starting 2Bman in 2012. He hit .300 with a .365 OBP and .772 OPS, numbers almost identical to Joe Panik’s. However, Panik is two full years younger than Jurica. We’ll have to see how Jurica’s bat holds up at AA Richmond, where he’s most likely to start the 2013 season.
18. Brett Boche (RHP, 25). Boche was selected as the Giants’ 20th round pick in 2010, and even then most likely as a gesture to his father Giants’ manager Bruce Boche. However, Boche has pitched extremely well in his two seasons of professional ball. Last year at AA Richmond Boche recorded a 2.53 ERA, 14 saves and 69 strike outs in 53.1 IP.
In two professional seasons roughly split between Class A Augusta and AA Richmond, Boche has struck out 122 batters in 92.1 innings of work while walking only 26. While he’s already 25 years old and hasn’t yet pitched at the AAA level, it certainly looks like he’s got the pitching arm to be a major leaguer in the future.
19. Conor Gillaspie (3B, 25). Gillaspie was the 37th player selected in the 2008 Draft, and it’s possible I should rate him higher since he’s still only 25 years old. However, in his second full season of AAA ball in 2012, Gillaspie regressed with the bat. His .786 OPS was 58 points lower than in 2011 and wasn’t even good enough to rank among the top 40 in the hitter friendly Pacific Coast League.
Gillaspie is still young enough to have a major league career, but it’s not likely to be in San Francisco, since he has little chance of displacing Pablo Sandoval as the Giants’ regular 3Bman. He’s also running out of minor league options.
20. Adelberto Mejia (LHP, 20). He’s one of the Giants’ recent Latin bonus babies and pitched at Class A Augusta in 2012. After being one of the top five or six starters in the Dominican Summer League in 2011, Mejia was a bit over-matched by the jump to full-season A-ball. His 10-7 record was strong, but his 3.97 ERA and his pitching line of 106.2 IP, 122 hits and 21 walks and 79 Ks were not particularly impressive given what a great place to pitch Augusta is.
Still, given his age, his command of the strike zone, and the jump in competition he made in 2012, he’s well worth keeping an eye on. However, he’s still a long way from the major leagues.
21. Mason McVay (LHP, 22). Mason McVay is a huge left-hander (6’7″, 230 lbs) the Giants drafted in the 26th round last year out of college. He was completely dominating in relief for the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, the Giants’ short-season A league team, posting a 1.19 ERA and striking out 43 batters in 30.1 IP.
22. Tyler Hollick (CF, 20). The Giants’ 12th round draft pick out of junior college last year, Hollick has blazing speed and gets on base. In 32 games for the Rookie League Arizona Giants, Hollick hit .301 with a fantastic .441 OBP and stole 21 bases in 23 attempts. He’d rank higher, but 32 Rookie League games isn’t much to go on.
23. Travious Relaford (SS, 21). A 44th round draft pick also out of junior college in 2011, Relaford was the top hitter for the Arizona Giants last season. He hit .331 with a .412 OBP and .904 OPS in 39 games.
24. Jarrett Parker (OF, 24). The Giants drafted Parker in the 2nd round of the 2010 Draft because of his tools. If that reminds you of Freddie Lewis and Todd Linden, it should — Parker has still got the great tools but is struggling to become a good baseball player.
Last year, Parker hit only .247 in his second year at A+ San Jose and struck out an insane 175 times in only 409 at-bats. Even so, his OPS increased more than 50 points from the year before up to .809, because Parker walked or was hit by pitches 75 times and he hit with more power than the year before. He stole 28 bases in 34 attempts, can play all three outfield positions in a pinch, and has 17 outfield assists (but 15 errors) over two seasons.
It’s hard to imagine a player who strikes out this much in high-A ball ever amounting to much, but Parker definitely has the physical ability if he can start making better contact.