San Francisco Giants Minor League Update, Part III: A+ San Jose Giants

The San Jose Giants are the SF Giants’ best minor league club so far this year, and despite a rash of injuries are likely to remain so at least until their top pitchers start to get promoted.  The SJ Giants are currently 22-11 and in first place by half a game in the California League North Division.  The team has hitting and even better pitching, although some key arms are currently on the disabled list.

Right fielder Devin Harris is currently tied for the California League lead with ten HRs, and he’s tied for second with 27 RBIs.  Unfortunately, he’s also already 25 years old, which doesn’t make him much of a prospect at this level.

Same story for 2Bman Ryan Cavan.  He’s currently leading the California League with a .363 batting average, but he turns 26 in late June.

Catcher Jeff Arnold currently has a .394 on-base percentage and .932 OPS in 22 games.  He’s also 25 years old, but catchers generally get more opportunities to be late bloomers.  1Bman Miles Schroeder is hitting a very even .300/.400/.500, but he’s also 25 years old.

Among position players young enough to be prospects at this level, 23 year old SS Kelby Tomlinson is batting .328/.381/.379, but hasn’t played since April 27th due to a strained quadriceps muscle.  22 year old outfielder Mac Williamson, last year’s 3rd round Draft pick out of Wake Forest, is hitting .256/.331/.427, but has struck out 32 times in 117 at-bats.

23 year old left fielder Shawn Payne, who had a break-out season at Class A Augusta last year, has a .363 on-base percentage, but a slump over his last ten games has dropped his batting average to .252 and his slugging percentage to 309.  22 year old 1Bman Angel Villalona, in his first year back in the United States after late 2009 murder charges in the Dominican Republic, has six home runs and 13 extra base hits, but his on-base percentage is an awful .279 and he’s tied for the team lead in strike outs with Williamson.  23 year old center fielder Chris Lofton has a .337 OBP, but it’s doing much else with the bat.

The SJ Giants’ top prospects are pitchers, and it’s a good bet that the organization is starting so many minor league veterans like Harris, Cavan, Schroeder and Arnold in part to make winners out of their young pitchers.

At this moment the SJ Giants’ top prospect is probably 20 year old right-hander Clayton Blackburn.  He’s been hit hard in his last two starts, allowing nine runs, seven of them earned, in 11 innings pitched, which has raised his ERA to an even 3.00.  However, he’s allowed only 24 hits and six walks in 33 IP while striking out 42.  His ERA is relatively high because he’s allowed four home runs.

21 year old lefty Edwin Escobar has also seen his ERA jump about a run in his last two starts up to 3.04, but he’s struck out 38 batters in 26.2 innings pitched while allowing only 23 hits and six walks.  23 year old righty Christopher “Thousand Ships” Marlowe has a 1.73 ERA after five starts, but his ratios aren’t great.

20 year old righty Kyle Crick, whom I rated as the Giants’ best pitching prospect last November and second overall (MLB.com rated him as the Giants’ top overall prospect), had an 0.93 ERA after three starts.  However, he had a run average over 5.00 and was very wild, walking nine in 9.2 IP (but striking out 12).  Crick then strained an oblique muscle and hasn’t pitched since April 18th.

20 year old lefty and former Dominican bonus baby Adelberto Mejia also got off to a fairly good start this year, but he just went on the seven-day disabled list this past Tuesday with an as yet unreported injury.

22 year old lefty Ty Blach, who the Giants drafted in the fifth round out of Creighton University last June, is 4-1 with a 1.87 ERA.  In 33.2 IP, he’s allowed 40 hits but only three walks while striking out 24 batters.  You’d like to see more strikeouts and fewer hits allowed from a top pitching prospect at this level, but it’s at least clear that Blach has excellent command and may simply need to learn that he doesn’t need to give in to hitters when he’s behind in the count.

The San Jose Giants are using a six-man rotation this season, and with Kyle Crick hurt, right-hander Austin Fleet has made what would have been Crick’s last two starts.  Fleet currently has a 2.61 ERA with 23 Ks in 20.2 IP while allowing only 12 hits and six walks.  Unfortunately, Fleet is already 26 years old and should probably be pitching at AA Richmond where he spent most of the past two seasons.

The SJ Giants have plenty of good relievers too.  Big 24 year old lefty Josh Osich has a 1.13 ERA after 12 appearances with 19 Ks in 16 IP and a WHIP just under 1.00.  Even bigger 23 year old lefty Bryce Bandilla has struck out a very impressive 36 batters in only 21 innings pitched, but he’s also walked 12 and given up a couple of dingers to push his ERA over 4.00.

Righ-handers Luis Rojas and Hunter Strickland have also pitched well so far.  Rojas is 23 this season, and Strickland is 24.

You can find all of the 2013 San Jose Giants’ stats here.

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