Giant Track Record
Organization continues to produce pitching
The Giants' track record for finding and evaluating power arms ranks speaks for itself. Some, such as playoff starters Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum, were first-round draft picks. Others, such as playoff starter Jonathan Sanchez (27th round, 2004), closer Brian Wilson (24th round, 2003) and setup man Sergio Romo (28th round, 2005) were not.
San Francisco may have another find along the Wilson line in righthander Heath Hembree, the organization's fifth-round pick out of College of Charleston. Hembree had a first-round arm but not a first-round background. He didn't pitch as a high school senior due to a torn anterior cruciate ligament in one of his knees, then made only one appearance at South Carolina as a freshman.
He made up for some lost time at Spartanburg (S.C.) JC, going 7-0, 1.22 in his lone season there, before transferring to Charleston. The Cougars made him a reliever, and he attracted throngs of scouts with a fastball that has touched 100 mph. Problem is, he lost his closer's spot and was used less consistently than scouts would have liked, making him tough to see and crosscheck. He also had spotty command (18 walks in 29 innings) and was easy to hit with metal bats (33 hits allowed), leading to an unsightly 5-3, 6.52 line with four saves.
Realizing Hembree remains raw, the Giants assigned him to the Rookie-level Arizona League after signing him for a $185,000 bonus in mid-July. He immediately impressed and only failed to register a strikeout in his last outing of the year. He gave up one run in 11 innings while striking out 22 and—most crucially—not walking anyone.
"He throws strikes," AZL Giants manager Marcos Garcia said. "He goes right after hitters. That's what we're looking for. He's going to need a little more command of his fastball as he moves up the ladder—go in and out and up and down. And use the slider a little more."
• Brandon Belt heads the Giants' Arizona Fall League contingent, which also includes lefthander Joe Paterson, righties Jason Stoffel and Ryan Verdugo. middle infielder Charlie Culberson and third baseman Conor Gillaspie.
• The Giants were the only playoff team with three first-round picks in consecutive seasons on their playoff roster in Lincecum ('06), Bumgarner ('07) and catcher Buster Posey ('08).